The Caucasus: Frozen Conflicts and Closed Borders

Title: The Caucasus: Frozen Conflicts and Closed Borders
Location: The House Foreign Affairs, Washington DC
Description: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the Caucasus on June 18, 2008
Start Time: 10:00
Date: 2008-06-19

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the Caucasus on June 18, 2008.  Please contact your Member of Congress and ask them to point out Turkey and Azerbaijan’s positive role in the region.   The Armenian American community will ask members to emphasize “blockade” of Armenia. Please emphasize Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijan and blockade of Nakhichevan.  Below are additional points for your consideration and a list of Members on their committee and their staff.  It is most effective if you are a constituent or know the office. If you would like to know who your Member of Congress is, go to and put in your zip code.  

Thank you

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the Caucasus on June 18, 2008.  As your constituents, we would like you to keep the following in mind and if possible, raise the following issues:




  • At the epicenter of Eurasian energy and transport routes, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are bolstering global energy security by providing for the safe and secure flow of goods, services, and energy resources to world markets.


  • Since the “Contract of the Century” was signed in 1994, Azerbaijan has extensively developed its energy resources to diversify western energy supplies.  The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline became fully operational in July 2006, and will provide one third of new oil to international markets.  


  • Turkey and Israel are jointly working for the realization of the Turkey-Israel Multi-Pipeline System which will support global energy security as the North-South energy corridor becomes as important as the East-West energy corridor.


  • New opportunities have emerged in Turkmenistan for the realization of the Turkmenistan-Trans Caspian-Turkey-Europe Gas Pipeline Project (TCP).





  • Armenia occupies 20 percent of neighboring Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno Karabakh region and seven additional regions. 
  • The State Department’s 2008 fact sheet on the region states: “The United States does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent country, and its leadership is not recognized internationally or by the United States.  The United States supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and holds that the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh is a matter of negotiation between the parties with the aim of achieving a lasting and comprehensive political resolution of the conflict. The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through the Minsk Group process.”  The United States mediates the peace process as a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group which was established in 1992.


  • From a total population of eight million, there are nearly one million refugees and internally displaced Azerbaijanis.


  • According to the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave is “blockaded by neighboring Armenia.”


  • Four U.N. Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874, 884) adopted in 1992 and 1993 call for the unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories.


  • Armenia has not recognized the Armenian-Turkish border.





  • Iran is one of Armenia’s largest trading partners.  The two countries are working on a trade agreement.


  • An Iran-Armenia gas pipeline was opened by President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Armenian President Robert Kocharian on March 19, 2007.


  • Russia and Iran are planning to construct a refinery in Armenia with an annual capacity to refine 53 million barrels of oil and produce gasoline and diesel fuel.  Armenia will only use 1 million tons of refined oil; the vast majority will be exported.


  • The State Department expressed concern about relations between Armenia and Iran in its 2007 Country Reports on Terrorism:


“Armenia’s warming relations with neighboring Iran continued, with Armenia hosting official visits by Iranian President Ahmadinejad (October) and Iranian Defense Minister Najjar (November).  In addition to fostering closer diplomatic ties, these visits served to solidify previous bilateral commitments to develop joint energy and transportation projects.  This closer cooperation has made Armenia more reluctant to criticize publicly objectionable Iranian conduct or join other UN member states in advocating for sanctions on the Iranian regime.”

 June 2008


Foreign Affairs Staffers for House Foreign Affairs Committee Members




Contact Information (office)



Doug Campbell


[email protected]


David Adams


[email protected]


Lisa Williams


[email protected]


Stephanie Gidigbi


[email protected]


Don MacDonald


[email protected]


Jesper Pedersen


[email protected]


Jason Steinbaum


[email protected]


Brain Forni


[email protected]


Sophia King


[email protected]


Shawn Hodjati


[email protected]


Bert Hammond


[email protected]


Jeremy Haldeman

[email protected]



Carling Dinkler

[email protected]



Jennifer Goedke

[email protected]


Jackson Lee

Yohannes Tsehai

[email protected]


Nina Besser

[email protected]


Andrew Jones

[email protected]



Scott Olson (Latin America and Europe)

[email protected]


Elsa Tung (Asia and Middle East)

[email protected]


Brad Miller

Ashley Orr

[email protected]


Linda Sanchez

Jose Delgado

[email protected]


David Scott

Gary Woodward

[email protected]



Bob Farmer

[email protected]



Jessica Lawrence (Asia, Pacific)

[email protected]


Hannah Brown (Western Hemisphere)

[email protected]



Liz Berry

[email protected]


Ron Klein

Mira Kogen

[email protected]


Adam Smith

Katy Quinn


[email protected]


Chris Smith

Sheri Rickert, subcommittee staff member, counsel


[email protected]


Peter Martin

Subcommittee staff


[email protected]


Mark Milosch,

Subcommittee staff


[email protected]


Brian Fauls


[email protected]

Mark Walker

[email protected]



Richard Mereu


[email protected]


Yleem Poblete


[email protected]


Sarah Kiko


[email protected]


Paul Berkowitz


[email protected]


Thomas Sheehy


[email protected]


Keri Sikich


[email protected]


Nien Su


[email protected]


Mac Zimmerman


[email protected]


Daniel McAdams


[email protected]


Chandler Morse


[email protected]


Jamie Jones Miller


[email protected]


LeAnne Gibbs


[email protected]


Paul Blocher


[email protected]

Joe Wilson

Paul Callahan


[email protected]


Margaret Lemmerman


[email protected]


Carla Campbell


[email protected]


Francis Gibbs


[email protected]


Diana Tasnadi


[email protected]


Ari Stein


[email protected]


Nicole Hunt


[email protected]


David Weil


[email protected]


John Laufer


[email protected]

The Allegations

The allegation that the Ottoman Empire carried out a systematic and deliberate plan to annihilate the entire Armenian population is not supported by and contrary to historical evidence. Hence, the so-called “Armenian genocide” far from being an historical fact, is disputed by many scholars.

In the 1870’s, Armenian nationalists began the process of fomenting revolution on the part of their compatriots in Anatolia, against Ottoman rule. This process, which was to culminate in betrayal during World War I, was noted as early as March 18, 1878. The British Ambassador to the Ottoman government was informed by the religious head of the Empire’s Armenian population that the Armenian minority was preparing to overthrow the Ottoman Rule and annex themselves and Ottoman territory to Russia. Forty years before the alleged massacres, Armenian Revolutionaries had succeeded in fomenting a two-fold desire on the part of the Ottoman Armenians: a). a desire for a national revolution, b). a desire for union with the Ottoman Empire’s traditional enemy, Czarist Russia.

Armenian Revolutionaries sought to incite European intervention on behalf of their cause by massacring innocent Muslim villagers. They hoped to provoke counter violence, which would then serve as a pretext for European intervention. Armenian treachery culminated at the beginning of the First World War with the decision of the revolutionary organizations to assist the invading Russian armies. Their hope was that their participation in the Russian success would be rewarded with an independent Armenian state carved out of Ottoman territories. Armenian Revolutionaries cut Ottoman supply lines by guerilla attacks and armed Armenian civilian populations, who in turn massacred the Muslim population. The Ottoman response was to order the relocation of its Armenian subjects from the path of the invading Russians and other areas where they might undermine the Ottoman war effort.

The leader of the Armenian delegation in attendance at the Paris Peace Conference after World War I openly acknowledged the fact that it was the Armenian contributions to the Allied war effort, which led to their mistreatment by the Ottoman authorities. There would be no more overt declaration of Armenian betrayal of their own country than the delegation’s demand that the Armenian people be given the status of “belligerents” to qualify for rewards for their treachery.

In short, the Ottoman officials were clearly justified in their decision to attempt to remove their Armenian populations from the path of the invading Russians they were actively supporting.

We acknowledge that what transpired in Eastern Anatolia was one of history’s worst human disasters. Its causes lay back 100 years in the Russian conquests and in nationalism and religious separatism. Blame must be apportioned to the Russian government which had no legitimate right to the lands conquered; to the Allies, who ignored their own avowed principles of majority rule; to the Ottoman government which was not strong enough to defend its empire from Russia or to protect its people from each other; but most of all, to the Armenian nationalists who were willing to sacrifice their own people in the name of their ideology.

Insistence on viewing Armenians as the unique victims of suffering in Anatolia is untenable as competent scholarship on the subject has expanded and the Ottoman archives has been opened for research.

A Basic Refresher Summary

First contact between Armenians and Turks date back to the early 1100s when nomadic Turkish tribes started showing up in numbers in Anatolia. These tribes begun their immigration from the harsh conditions of the steppes which today are north western China and still home to the Moslem Turkic Uygurs. Armenians at the time were mostly under the prosecution of the decaying Byzantium and/or Persian empires. Decline of the Byzantine increased as the Turks formed the Selcuklu empire which was welcomed by the many of the regions minorities as it brought a new order and a period of tranquility until the Christian Crusades began which in turn became the major cause for the decline of the Selcuklu which bore the full brunt defending the Moslem lands. The Selcuklu was followed by the 600+ year Ottoman empire in which Armenians found a chance like many other ethnic groups to serve in diverse fields in the government as well as live a much more peaceful and protected life.

The Osmanli Empire (House of Osman) called the Ottoman Empire due to the mistake of Italian traders hundreds of years ago consisted of a multitude of ethnic and religious groups. The relationship of the majority, Moslems and the other religions were almost at all times favorable compared to their previous experiences under rulers of different religions.

The Ottoman Millet system of self governance was the major reason for the empires more then half millenium existence and in many ways are reflected in the current states model of the USA, except that the regions were at times even less loosely regulated. Simply put the none Moslems were exempt from military service and needed to only pay their taxes as determined together by the leader of their sect or social group and the Ottoman court. Non Moslems were later allowed into the military as a result of colonization efforts of the west which caused periods of non stop warfare on many fronts.

However during and after the eighteen hundreds the Empire entered a period of decline. It had failed to modernize and very slow to industrialize, nationalism was slowly boiling in Europe. Through a combination of failing to modernize, unsuccessful row of Sultans (Emperors) added with the colonialist moves of the west did not allow the Ottoman to catch up fast enough.

To give an idea of the expansionist desires of colonialism, the Ottoman armies fought wars in 1806-12, 1828-29, 1832-33, 1839-40, 1853-56, 1877-78, 1897, 1911-13, 1914-18, 1919-23 at great human and material cost. These dates dont even include internal uprisings. The resulting loss in man power undermined the once superior preparedness of the army, loss of land undermined revenue, the slow but steady seeping of ethnic nationalism coupled with the influx of Moslem refugees running from ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and Central-Caucasia stirred inter communal tensions.

The Ottoman Empire at the time was still a large entity but seen as the sick man of Europe with great wealth to be divided upon his death. Depleted military of the Ottomans required that internal forces which normally patrolled and kept law & order in the rural areas were summoned to the battle fronts. This is when the Russian dream for warmer waters (the Bosphorus/Dardanelles) and expansion in caucasia really fired up. In fact most European powers such as UK, France, Italy, Germany, Austria-Hungary were all interested in getting a piece of the Ottoman lands one way or the other. With the original intent of dividing up the Ottoman Empire, the western nations and Russia drew various plans of intervention to speed up the death and burial of the sick man. With the context of protecting the Christian minorities these powers started demanding things of the Ottoman empire which it was not in position to provide for anyone in the empire.

The plan was to bring chaos to the internal order of the Ottoman Empire, wreck the tranquility which the Ottomans had succeeded in keeping different ethnic groups living side by side peacefully and then intervening and grabbing large pieces of land with the pretense of protecting its minorities. The Russians & the British were the most successful of the colonial powers. The Russians were able to incite the Ottoman Armenians which shared a common religion with the promise of their own country while the British used a combination of bribes and promises of sheikdoms to local Arabs. As a result of the mostly British (but also the rest of the WW1 Allied forces) intervention most of the middle east’s borders have been drawn artificially without any real ethnical or national basis hence the high level of conflict in the region today. This is also how the Armenian question came up. Czarist Russia saw that a very trusted Ottoman minority (actually called the “trusted millet”) shared common religion (Orthodox) and was directly on the path of its expansion plans. The Russian Armenian relations began in the middle of the seventeenth century when Russia started flexing its expansionist military. In short Armenians were promised a country of their own if they fought on the side of the Russians.

The plan was two fold; first Armenian revolutionaries would join the ranks of the Russian forces but the second and more importantly Armenian revolutionaries would cause chaos behind the Ottoman lines. Their action behind the lines would not be limited to military but unprotected Moslem villages causing backlashes at Armenian villages and in return Russia would make claims on the Ottomans. Disrupting already limited supply lines, attacking in transit groups and causing terror behind lines against civilians which would require the Ottomans to divert man power from the front lines to the back for policing reasons caused un imaginable harm to the Ottoman efforts to protect its lands and its citizens.

The Ottoman government realized that it could no longer police the complete “back office” while fighting multiple wars and decided to force the migration of Armenians from the regions of which they caused havoc altogether to other parts of the empire where they would be less useful to the Russians. In the long run with the fall of the Czar, Russians left the Armenians in the cold. The civilian Moslem people (Turks, Kurds, Arabs, etc.) whom they had attacked in the meantime came back to haunt them. The atrocities committed by Armenian revolutionaries on Moslem populations of the region and by the advancing Russian forces on the conquered territories created a backlash. The refugees barely having survived Russian/Armenian massacres lashed back at the Armenians which were left alone by the Russians causing mass deportations and refugees on the Armenian side. The Ottoman Empire which had been reduced in size by more then 50% at this time was in no position to police or control regional violence, a civil war was taking place while it still tried fighting full battles on 3 distinct fronts (Balkans, Middle East, Caucasia) at the same time. The Ottoman Empire was the only Axis power left fighting when Germany and Austria-Hungarian empires fell at the end of World War 1.

When the Turkish War of Independence was won, peace came with the Lausanne Treaty. Part of the treaty of 1923, established Armenians together with Greeks and Jews as citizens of the new Republic with an official minority status.

Today Armenians continue their lives in Turkey in diverse fields mostly concentrated in Istanbul and some other Anatolian towns. As it was in the Ottoman Empire they are free to practice the requirements of their religion and continue to be a integral part of the state as they had been before. Of the latest news on Armenians in Turkey; On 11 October 1998 Sunday, 79 lay delegates were elected in the elections held in Istanbul, Kayseri, Diyarbakir, Iskenderun, Kirikhan and Vakifkoy (Antioch). Later in the week 10 clerical and 79 lay delegates forming the Armenian Church General Assembly elected the new Religious Council and Mesrob Mutafyan as the 84th Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul.

Today most problems on the issue are caused by the anti-Turkish-everything fanatic lobbying of the Armenian Diaspora and the occupation of more then 20% of Azerbaijan’s (Turkic) land by the Republic of Armenia.

Armenians of Armenia and the Diaspora will be touched upon later on.