Pelosi on defense assistance to Armenia: "We are listening to what the needs are"
The recent visit of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, to Armenia four days after the beginning of deadly clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces signifies a historical moment not only because she is the highest-ranking US official to visit Yerevan since the Republic achieved its independence in 1991, but also for the reason that the visit is likely to mark the beginning of a new period in the relations between the United States and Armenia.
The statements by Pelosi in the press conference on Sunday following her meeting with Alen Simonyan, the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, are indicative of what may be expected in the near future regarding the changing role of the US in the resolution of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Pelosi told the press conference:
"The value of our visit and the value of our discussions is to hear what, from your perspective, from Armenia’s perspective, how we can be helpful. And that has been a big part of our discussions thus far. One particular thing that we predict, more related to the economy than to security -except that they're all related- is that the Speaker asked us to support Armenia's steps that it is taking to be part of the Millennium Challenge. And that was a very big initiative for economic growth and fairness. So we did commit that we would work to help with that."
"On the defense side, we are listening to – rather than coming here and saying this is what we're prepared to do, we’re listening to what the needs are."
The global significance of security and democracy in Armenia
"May I just conclude by saying this: as each of colleagues have said, the democracy in Armenia is of value to the world, a joy to the world. And congratulations for the success of the Velvet Revolution and the recent fair and free -free and fair elections. We have to enlarge the issue, though. In security, what does security in Armenia mean to regional and global security. What does democracy in Armenia mean in the fight between democracy and autocracy, which is going on in the world now? In both cases, it means a great deal. And that's why, as Americans, when we talk about how can we be helpful, we'll be -in very discreet ways. We want to be helpful in discreet ways. We also want to take the democracy and sovereignty of Armenia to a bigger arena when we talk about democracy versus autocracy. Security and liberty."
"We'd like to see the recognition of how this all came to be in the last week"
As for the immediate steps that should follow the recent clashes, Pelosi said:
"As you know, what happened in the last week is recent and just more evidence of some of the – what we've been fighting for a long time, the treatment of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, the treatment of holy sites, as well as the people there. So again, we're speaking from the standpoint of the Congress of the United States. Our President has been a proud supporter of Armenia in terms of the genocide resolution, in terms of the invitation to the Summit, and we'll work together to see what the next steps, the next steps may be. But what we'd like to see right away is a ceasefire, a ceasefire and, of course, the recognition of how this all came to be in the last week."