BY THE CALIFORNIA COURIER.
HONOLULU, HAWAII – Hawaii became the seventh US state to rally in support of the democratic development and right to self-determination for the people of Artsakh today, voting unanimously to recognize the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, reported the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR).
The Hawaii House of Representatives consideration of H.R. 167 took place despite enormous pressure from the Azerbaijani Embassy to quash the measure, with the key vote taking place just 24 hours before Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Washington, DC to join President Obama and other world leaders in the nuclear summit.
The historic vote specifically voiced encouragement for Artsakh’s (Nagorno Karabagh) continuing efforts to develop as a free and independent nation and formally called the international community to recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as a free, independent, and sovereign democracy.
“Today the people of Hawaii stood on the side of freedom and independence for the people of Artsakh – standing strong against powerful lobbying interests seeking to undermine fundamental American and Armenian principles of democracy and self-determination. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to Representatives Angus McKelvey and John Mizuno for leading this effort and the entire House of Representatives for taking such a strong stance along with our grassroots for their efforts,” stated ANCA WR Executive Director Elen Asatryan.
The Nagorno Karabakh Republic Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan hailed the decision, stating, “I am grateful to the House of Representatives of the State of Hawaii, Representative McKelvey, Representative Mizuno, and all their colleagues who supported this motion. It reinforces Artsakhtsis’ confidence that our achievements do not go unnoticed; that a free and independent Nagorno Karabakh Republic will eventually be recognized as such by the entire civilized community of nations.”
Artsakh welcome the adoption of the resolution on the recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic by the House of Representatives of the State of Hawaii, Spokesperson for the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ani Sargsyan said in comment to Artsakh Public TV. “ We also express our gratitude to all those who have contributed to this cause,” she said.
“The international recognition of Artsakh is one of the highest priorities of our foreign policy, and we will continue our efforts towards new achievements in this process,” the spokesperson said.
Both Avetisyan and Asatryan offered special thanks to community advocate Artur Artenyan, who worked tirelessly in support of the measure, with the support of the growing Hawaii Armenian community. In 2014, through local community efforts, the Hawaii legislature publicly debated and then rejected a pair of Azerbaijan-initiated anti-Armenian measures, dealing a high-profile setback to Baku’s well-funded effort to enlist U.S. state legislatures in its increasingly aggressive campaign against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Artenian and Rudy Dekermenjian were on hand at the state capitol during the introduction and the vote.
In the days leading up to the unanimous vote on H.R.167, the ANCA Western Region worked with Artenyan and key House legislators, offering insights on Artsakh’s two decades of democratic development and economic progress in the face of increased attacks by Azerbaijani forces, which hit record levels in 2015.
Hawaii joins Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Louisiana, California and, most recently, Georgia in adopting legislation which supports the independence of Artsakh.