In 1992 Congress passed the Freedom Support Act, which was designed to assist former Soviet republics in their transition to democracy. The only republic excluded from this aid package was Azerbaijan, which was singled out in Section 907 of the Act.
Section 907 bars direct American aid to the Government of Azerbaijan unless the President of the United States certifies to Congress that Azerbaijan is “taking demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The Alliance believes this provision is both unfair and illogical.
It is unfair because it blames the wrong party in the complex dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of western Azerbaijan. Section 907 was passed in the midst of a full-scale war over Nagorno-Karabakh that was initiated by Armenia and Armenian separatists in Nagorno Karabakh. More than 1 million people – most of them Azeris – lost their homes and have been refugees for nearly 20 years. In the aftermath, a separatist, self-proclaimed “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” was carved out of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory and has not been recognized by any international body. See The Nagorno Karabakh Conflict.
It is illogical because it is against American interests to punish Azerbaijan, an important ally in the War on Terror and in a region whose stability should be a high priority for the United States.
Fortunately, in October 24, 2001, the Senate gave the U.S. President the ability to waive Section 907. That waiver has been exercised every year since 2002. Nevertheless, as long as the law remains in its original form, it symbolically and materially punishes Azerbaijan and makes it vulnerable to a cut-off of aid in the future.
Position of the Alliance
Alongside the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, the Alliance is dedicated to educating members of Congress about Section 907 and working towards expanding the number of Members who support its repeal.