On September 18, U.S. Congressman David Valadao visited Artsakh. The visit of the Congressman was interesting in itself and could not stay unnoticed both inside and outside.
And David Valadao's visit had extra nuances – thanks to the resolution adopted on his initiative, additional $1.5 million will be allocated from the United States external allocations for continuing the mine-clearance activities by the The HALO Trust organization in Artsakh. In this context, Congressman Valadao’s visit to Artsakh was mainly aimed at studying the issue in place and clarifying the further steps in that direction.
Just a few days after David Valadao’s proposal in the Congress to allocate $ 1.5 million for mine clearance in Artsakh, he arrived in Stepanakert accompanied by Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America Raffi Hamparian and Director of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund's US Office Maria Mihranian. The Congressman was informed of the mine clearance issues in Artsakh by his Armenian voters. “For me, it was a human rights issue first and foremost. And when I learnt about the mine clearance activities here, it decided to raise the issue", said the Congressman.
The HALO Trust has been operating in Artsakh since 2000 and has discovered about 11,400 anti-personnel mines since 2000. There were hundreds of cases when Artsakh residents found the mines earlier than the sappers, which led to fatalities.
Surely, it is more effective to get acquainted with mine clearance activities in place and to see the weapons employed. Since I am also engaged in agriculture in California, this issue is of great importance to me. If you do not have land, you cannot do anything", said the Congressman who was impressed by his meetings with sappers.
OFFICIAL GRANTS SHOULD COVER THE ENTIRE TERRITORY OF ARTSAKH
The leading staff of The HALO Trust show the cleared and uncleared areas on the map. Through official grants, demining has been completed in most parts of the former autonomous region’s territory. Official grants, including the $1.5 million to be allocated by the U.S. in 2018, cannot be spent by sappers outside the former NKAO territory. Permanent Representative of Artsakh to the USA Robert Avetisyan underlines that such disintegration is incomprehensible and unacceptable for the people of Artsakh. David Valadao, in turn, notes that in humanitarian terms this division is senseless, and the problem must be solved in all the areas. “I think we can change the direction of the humanitarian aid and, if necessary, press for this", says David Valadao. “If there is danger on both sides, the line is not important, and important is that the people are safe. That's the priority goal”, said Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America Raffi Hamparian.
POLITICAL ISSUES IN THE PARLIAMENT
Political issues were discussed in the Parliament of Artsakh. Congressman David Valadao and his delegation were received by Parliament Speaker Ashot Ghulyan. Besides the issues related to mine-clearance activities, the interlocutors also touched upon the issues of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement. In the Parliament, the guests learned also about the details of the electoral processes in Artsakh.