BY: Khachig Janoyan
Regarding his opinion on certain issues related to Nagorno-Karabakh, Syrian Refugees and the Genocide, that concern the Armenian community in Los Angeles.
Below we present the exclusive telephone interview for Nor Or Newspaper with Congressman Adam Schiff.
Kh.J. Good Afternoon Congressman Adam Schiff. It is pleasure to talk to you this afternoon. With your permission I would like to record this interview, to be able to publish it in Nor Or Armenian newspaper.
A.Sch. Hello Mr. Janoyan. Yes it is fine.
Kh.J. Although currently all the American people are very involved in the politics of Presidential primary elections, debates, etc., I would like to ask you other questions, pertaining to the Armenians.
Kh.J. Can you tell me what is the latest situation in Nagorno-Karabakh ?
A.Sch. The situation is very alarming. There is increasing violence along the line of control, line of contact where you have Azerbaijan’s firing tank shells artillery using sniper fire, where I think there is another casualty in the last twenty four hours. I think this is Aliyev’s effort to distract his domestic population from internal problems in the country, where places are collapsing, and this is a way of turning attention elsewhere, but things could easily be out of control, and this is why I am urging that we have monitoring equipment put in along the line of contacts that we can identify Azerbaijan violates the peace. Interestingly, Nagorno-Karabakh has agreed to that technology as has Armenia, but Azerbaijan is resisting and for a good reason, they are the ones who are the aggressors. I have also been urging the administration to speak out against Azerbaijani provocation and not talk about this in equivalent terms, as if both sides are equally responsible. But this is not the case, and it is very worrying. It could very easily spiral out of control.
Kh.J. Yes, that is the sad situation, they are not equally responsible. And they are saying the Armenians are doing as much as Azerbaijani’s but they are the aggressors. Thank you very much for the effort that you are trying to do.
A.Sch. I wrote to ambassador Warlick back in September urging him to call out the Azerbaijanis when they are violating the cease fire and I hope that is what he will do.
Kh.J. Now I will go to my next question.
Kh.J. About the Syrian Armenians. We know that the Syrian people are in very bad shape and they have millions of refugees, including Armenians, and some of them went to Armenia, some went to other places. Is there any plan from the United States of America to help these refugees? I know through United Nations and charitable organizations help is reached to the Syrians. I was part of SARF, Syrian Armenian Relief Fund, for two years, representing ADL (Armenian Democratic League). We were worried as how to help the refugees, and with our efforts we were able to extend a hand to them, to survive.
Kh.J. What is the United States plan to help these refugees? Is there any plan in their mind, through United Nations or other charitable organizations?
A.Sch. Yes. In fact just this week there was international donor conference where eleven billion dollars was pledged to help the refugees. United States pledged a billion of that sum. I think we should double our efforts to protect the population within Syria. And I think there is an effort that amounts to genocide against the Christian and the Yazidi communities, and those that are not able to escape the violence we need to do much more to protect those communities and then for those who are displaced and are utterly displaced and are refugees in Armenia, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere, we need to make sure they have the resources to eat, get the medicines they need. And you know Armenia is doing something extraordinary, it is not a wealthy country but yet they made these refugees settle. We provided over one million dollars of assistance but more is needed, particularly given the economic conditions in Armenia. So there is international relief but not yet nearly enough of it.
Kh.J. The one million dollar was granted from the United States government to Armenia to help the Syrian refugees??
A.Sch. It was funding that went from the United States to United Nations Agency and was disbursed by the United Nations in Armenia.
Kh.J. Thank you very much Congressman Schiff. I have one more question.
Kh.J. This is President Obama’s final year in office. Do you think he will live up to his campaign promises from 2008 and recognize the Armenian genocide??
A.Sch. I am doing everything I can to try to persuade the administration to recognize the genocide of April 24th, to get the president to meet the commitment he made as a candidate for president. This is an issue that I press the administration every year but this is the president’s last chance and I think we ought to do everything we can to persuade the president that he should make good on his commitment, it could be part of his legacy.
Kh.J. And he should not relate the interest of the nation with the moral thing of history
A.Sch. Yes absolutely, and I mean it’s hard for us to speak with the moral authority that we need to against the genocide that is going on against the Christians and Yezidis now in Syria and Iraq, if we are unwilling to recognize other genocides. So I think it is very important for United States, I think it is very important for all citizens, particularly for those of the survivors of the genocide to have their government acknowledge what happened to their families. So I am urging the president to do this. I try to make this first. I have been doing so with his staff as well.
Kh.J. Thank you very much Congressman, for this opportunity, and may God Bless you.
A.Sch. And for you as well.