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Lansing (GPA) -A resolution condemning Azerbaijan’s aggression against the ethnically-Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, passed in the Michigan House last Wednesday, October 14.

The resolution, known as Michigan House Resolution No.319, condemns Turkey and Azerbaijan for its assault on Armenian civilians, also called for the US Department of State to push for peace negotiations between the two nations. It was introduced by Michigan Senator Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham).

The resolution, in condemning Turkey and Azerbaijan for its assault on Armenian civilians, also called for the US Department of State to push for peace negotiations between the two nations through mediation by the OSCE Minsk Group, created in 1992 to facilitate negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The OSCE Minsk group, headed by Russia, France, and the US, also includes Belarus, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, and Turkey as member states in addition to Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The resolution was introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives two weeks ago, on October 7. 

Related: Armenians Speak: An Exclusive Series on Artsakh and the Armenian Diaspora

Turkey has backed Azerbaijan since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, being the first state to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence and forge an alliance with it as a result.

Sending waves of mercenaries to confront Artsakh, including many it has previously backed in Northeastern Syria, Turkey was a key player in igniting the Azerbaijani assault on Artsakh in late September, having ramped up funding to Azerbaijan exponentially in the months before the renewed conflict that began September 27. 

Russia’s attempts at ceasefire crumbled following the ultimatum given by Turkey, which continued to claim Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory and insisting any peace efforts will fail unless an Armenian withdrawal takes place.

Defense exports from Turkey to Azerbaijan increased from $278,800 in July to $36 million in August alone.

Magnoonian’s initiative comes with the backing of Michigan’s Armenian community, who have regarded the conflict as  “Armenian Genocide 2.0” by Azerbaijan’s main backer, Turkey. Since the onset of the conflict, they have been pushing to bring awareness to the violence and war crimes happening against Artsakh at the hands of Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Related: US Senate Passes Resolution Recognizing Armenian Genocide

“Under the cover of a global pandemic this conflict has destabilized an already conflicted region,” Magnoonian said to the House last Wednesday as she presented the resolution. “It’s a critically important geopolitical region for the United States of America, and this conflict has brought up also painful memories of passed ethnic cleansing and genocide committed by Turkey’s predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire.”

The Michigan Armenian community numbers 17,000 people, with around 11,000 in the Metro Detroit area alone. The Armenian-American community in Michigan is mostly concentrated in Oakland County. 

Michigan became the 8th US state in 2017 to recognize the independence of Artsakh with the bipartisan support of Senate Resolution (S.R.) 99, an initiative led by Michigan Senator David Knezek (D-5th District).

Image: Flickr – larrysphatpage

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