Doing It Now, We've Done It Before
Eagleburger, Former U.S. Secretary of State (Under Bush)
(Edited remarks addressed to President Heydar Aliyev and 290
attendees of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce at the Washington,
D.C. dinner on April 26, 1999.)
When Machiavelli was dying, they arranged
for a priest to come and give him the Last Rites. The priest
attending him at his deathbed said, "My son, my son, do
you repent of your sins and renounce the devil?" There was
no answer. So the priest asked again three or four more times.
But always there was no answer. So finally, out of frustration,
the priest said, "I ask you for the last time, do you repent
of your sins and renounce the devil?" Machiavelli looked
up at him and said, "This is not the time to make a new
Nor do I think this is the time to make new enemies, ladies and
gentlemen. This is the time for a little straight talk. The United
States is now engaged in a military operation in Kosovo with
the worthy objective of trying to end serious human rights crimes.
It is a commitment for which no one can argue against the objective,
though some of us might argue about the tactics.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger criticizing
the U.S. Congress for failing to repeal Section 907, which denies
aid to the Azerbaijani government.
It is in this context that I must ask how it is possible for
the United States Congress to pass legislation that punishes
a country that is itself the victim of major humanitarian crimes.
All you have to do is visit the refugee camps in Azerbaijan (as
Senator Howard Baker and I have done), and you'll learn very
quickly what I'm talking about. Those camps have existed for
years, and despite the fact that the Azeri government is doing
all it can to help support those refugees, these people are living
under miserable conditions. Those camps exist because of the
aggression of another state [Armenia].
And yet at the same time, this Congress of ours, despite the
firm commitment of the Administration to change it, I must say,
is punishing the victim of that aggression with legislation that
prohibits most aid to Azerbaijan. The resulting humanitarian
disaster may not be as awful as what we now see in Kosovo, but
it comes very close. I don't understand such a policy.
I don't know how any American who believes in the justice of
our own country can accept the fact that our own Congress has
taken such action and continues to hold such a position, despite
all the evidence that has become evident over the course of the
years. A humanitarian tragedy has taken place. Azerbaijan's major
enemy [Armenia] receives arms from Russia, money from Russia
and support from Russia in all sorts of ways. And we not only
tolerate it, we offer generous support to the country that has
caused all this agony in Azerbaijan. It really must stop.
If we're going to look at ourselves in the mirror and say we
mean it when we talk about our defense of humanitarian interests
and our horror of humanitarian crimes, then it's damn well time
that we did away with Section 907*. And it's damn well time that
we tell the Congress of the United States the facts, even if
they don't seem to want to understand. It's high time that the
Senate and the House of Representatives began to understand that
they are actively supporting terrorism and aggression and inhumanity.
So before we pat ourselves on the back for our commitment to
prevent this humanitarian tragedy that is taking place in Yugoslavia,
let us remember that we have some other obligations. And, in
fact, what we have done is precisely the wrong thing.
Thank you very much.
Freedom Support Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1992.
This legislation was originally intended to provide economic
and humanitarian aid to the former republics of the Soviet Union,
trusting that such assistance would help stabilize democratic
forms of government and foster economic growth. Section 907 refers
to the restricting clause that singles out Azerbaijan from the
15 former Soviet Republics and denies all direct aid to the Azerbaijani
This restriction, with its distorted logic and wording against
Azerbaijan, was initiated by the Armenian lobby. It came in retaliation
for Azerbaijan's decision to cut off one of the rail routes that
carried supplies and fuel to Armenia. However, the Armenians
failed to point out to the U.S. legislators that there was another
rail route that they themselves had blown up. Armenians claim
that Azerbaijan blockaded their landlocked country, but a simple
glance of the map indicates that Armenia has numerous options
for access to trade and humanitarian aid, since it shares borders
with Iran, Georgia and Turkey.
At the time that this legislation was passed, Armenians were
at war with Azerbaijanis, who considered it national suicide
to provide supplies to the neighbors who were attacking them.
As a result of this aggression, Armenians now occupy approximately
20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory by military force (Nagorno-Karabakh
and seven regions beyond).
Azerbaijanis consider this piece of U.S. legislature grossly
unfair, as it rewards the aggressors and punishes the victims,
who are crushed under the economic burden of approximately 1
million refugees. Since the enactment of the Freedom Support
Act, the U.S. Congress has provided nearly $1.1 billion of aid
to Armenia. Less than $150 million of aid has been directed to
Azerbaijan, and this only through non-governmental agencies (NGOs),
which are mostly American agencies. Obviously, a disproportionate
amount of that aid gets absorbed in the bureaucratic administering
of such U.S. agencies and does not result in the alleviation
of the desperate needs of the people who are the victims of this
© Azerbaijan International 1999. All rights reserved.
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AI 7.2 (Summer 99)
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