Barger meets with federal officials to discuss end to Nagorno-Karabakh violence

Supervisor Kathryn Barger attends an Armenian Roundtable with U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Arizona, (left) and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien (right) on Oct. 30, 2020, in Arcadia. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger met Friday with federal officials to discuss U.S. efforts to broker peace in Nagorno-Karabakh amid ongoing fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  

The roundtable discussion, held in Arcadia with National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Arizona, and local leaders of the Armenian community, centered “on the unprovoked military operations by Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region against Armenians in the area,” according to a Friday statement from Barger’s office. 

Over the past month, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have engaged in a deadly fight over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but occupied and controlled by Armenians. The conflict, with mounting civilian casualties, is considered the most aggressive since the signing of the cease-fire agreement between the two nations in 1994. 

Russia, France and the U.S. have attempted to broker a ceasefire, but all efforts have failed “almost immediately” with “both sides claiming that the other side violated the ceasefire and therefore the fighting continues,” said O’Brien. 

“We are deeply troubled by Azerbaijan’s refusal to honor three separate ceasefire agreements in recent weeks and the continued campaign to spread misinformation to deflect their egregious actions,” said Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley. 

O’Brien said the U.S. is working with the Scandinavian government to put together a peacekeeping force that could be deployed into the region to preserve a ceasefire and called on both countries to abide. 

“Outside powers have no role in this conflict,” he said. “What is clear to the United States and to President (Donald) Trump and our team is that there is no military solution to the political issues at stake in this conflict. So, both sides must agree to a ceasefire and they must come to the negotiating table without preconditions. This is particularly true of the Azerbaijanis who have been the most hesitant about an unconditional ceasefire to date.” 

Both sides must be willing to discuss “in good faith” the substance of the conflict and prepare to make “difficult compromises,” he said, adding that the U.S. is committed to peace for both parties. 

Friday’s discussion comes after multiple calls for peace across Southern California, including a demonstration in Santa Clarita earlier in October, where hundreds of local Armenians gathered with local elected officials outside City Hall. Officials including Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita; state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita; and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors have joined their colleagues in penning letters that officially condemn Azerbaijan’s military operations and support Armenians.

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