SecState-Nominee Blinken Says Biden Will Consult With Congress On April 24th Statement & In Assisting Return Of POWs.

President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, confirmed that the incoming Administration will consult with Congress on the wording of its April 24th statement, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

In response to a written question from Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) during his confirmation hearing, Blinken noted that: “As a presidential candidate, President Biden pledged in his Remembrance Day statement to support a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide,” adding: “The Administration will determine the wording for the White House statement to mark Remembrance Day once in office and will consult with Congress on this important issue.” The U.S. House and Senate nearly unanimously passed Armenian Genocide Resolutions in 2019.

Senator Markey also asked about what steps the Administration plans take “to ensure the immediate return of POWs being held by Azerbaijan.” Blinken stressed, in response, that: “the United States should be leading a diplomatic effort to find a lasting resolution to the conflict, working together with our European partners, including facilitating the return of prisoners of war.”

“We join with Armenian Americans and our pro-Armenian allies from across Massachusetts and around the country in thanking Senator Markey for his leadership in calling out and confronting the continuity of official Turkish and Azerbaijani genocidal intent and actions against the Armenian people,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “In the wake of Baku’s war crimes against Artsakh – armed and incited by Ankara – it is more urgent than ever for the United States to signal both Turkey and Azerbaijan that the U.S. will no longer turn a blind eye to their genocidal drive to destroy the Armenian nation.”

The full text of Senator Markey’s questions and Secretary of State-designate Blinken’s responses are provided below.

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Sen. Markey: Will you formally recognize the crimes committed against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire as Genocide?

Blinken: As a presidential candidate, President Biden pledged in his Remembrance Day statement to support a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide. Our administration will be committed to prioritizing human rights and ensuring such a tragedy is not repeated. The Administration will determine the wording for the White House statement to mark Remembrance Day once in office and will consult with Congress on this important issue.

Sen. Markey: In the aftermath of the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia last year, what steps will the Administration take to ensure the immediate return of POWs being held by Azerbaijan?

Blinken: As the President has said, the United States should be leading a diplomatic effort to find a lasting resolution to the conflict, working together with our European partners, including facilitating the return of prisoners of war. If confirmed, I will reinvigorate U.S. engagement to find a permanent settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that protects the security of Nagorno-Karabakh and helps to ensure another war does not break out. This includes stepping up our engagement via the Minsk Group, of which the United States is a co-chair, and additional diplomatic work to prevent any further interference by third parties.

Sen. Markey: Will the Administration restrict funding to Azerbaijan, fully enforcing Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, as President-elect Joe Biden urged the Trump Administration to do?

Blinken: In light of the recent outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Biden-Harris administration will review our security assistance to Azerbaijan. If the circumstances warrant, we will be prepared to suspend waivers of requirements under section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. If confirmed, I look forward to working with Congress and the Secretary of Defense to determine the appropriate level of assistance to meet the security needs of Armenia and the region.

Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

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