How Will the US Respond to ACSDA Petition?

In early April, a civil society group in Azerbaijan launched a petition on the White House’s website (found here) to raise awareness of not only the illegal occupation of Azerbaijan’s territory by Armenia, but also of the imminent failure of the Sarsang Reservoir and the danger of a massive humanitarian catastrophe that would likely follow. (We have explored this topic at length before.)  As of this writing, 331,589 people have signed the petition, which is three times the number required under the White House’s rules to elicit an official response from the Obama Administration. Today, Elkhan Suleymanov, the President of that civil society group, explores some of the issues involved. We are honored to have his contribution here.

The signature-gathering campaign for the petition “Establish justice and prevent a great catastrophe” – launched by the Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan (ACSDA) on the official website of White House on April 6, 2016 – lasted for 30 days, ending on May 6. Over 330,000 people have signed the petition so far.

According to its own rules, the White House or State Department shall respond to the petition within 1 (one) month. Thus, we’re waiting for the response by Obama Administration.

The reason of this address to the US is simple: The US is the strongest country in the world and holds itself out as a messenger of democracy and guarantor of international security. It is one of the five permanent UN Security Council members and co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group.

The White House’s response will demonstrate the extent of its objectivity as a superpower and guarantor of democratic development, international security, and international law principles. The petition is on the official website of the Obama Administration, and multiple users from not only America, but also all over the world got acquainted with this call by the Azerbaijani people. These facts, also confirmed with official documents by great international institution, like the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), are on the focus of world’s attention. Thus, the US response to the petition may influence its international image as well, as it will show the essence of this messenger of democracy.

As you know, two points are underlined in the petition:

  • The fact of occupation of Azerbaijani territories by the Armenian state and the call for support of their liberation. PACE Resolution 2085, referred to in the petition, eliminated a very significant point delaying the liberation of our territories so far. The Armenian state was officially confirmed as an aggressor; thus, the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic cannot be a party to negotiations anymore. Therefore, the US response, as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, will clearly demonstrate to what extent the US is interested in the liberation of our territories.
  • A possible great humanitarian catastrophe due to Sarsang reservoir, and a call for support to prevent this catastrophe. The adopted PACE Resolution 2085 makes the Armenian state fully responsible for this possible catastrophe. Hopefully, the US will express its clear support for the prevention of this catastrophe. Should the US ignore and not support our call, the whole world community will be responsible for this possible humanitarian catastrophe.

It should be taken into consideration that the US response to Resolution 2085 (2016) adopted following the vote of 45 out of 47 PACE member states (Russia couldn’t vote due to voting sanctions, and Armenia voted against) will demonstrate the US attitude to CoE decisions.

Apparently, the US response to the petition will have a multi-faceted nature. We want to believe that the US officials will consider all these aspects and won’t merely respond to the petition for the sake of a response. Hopefully, the reality will be taken into consideration, and the petition will receive an objective and comprehensive response.

Elkhan Suleymanov is the President of the Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan.