(Senate - June 30, 1999)

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[Pages S7867-S7877]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           AMENDMENT NO. 1118

  Mr. SARBANES. Mr. President, I rise in very strong opposition to the 
amendment offered to this legislation by my colleague from Kansas, 
Senator Brownback. I am supportive of the amendment offered by the 
chairman of the subcommittee to the Brownback amendment, the second-
degree amendment. But I want to address the Brownback amendment for 
just a few minutes here. In the course of doing that, I will underscore 
why I am supportive of the chairman's amendment and why I oppose the 
Brownback amendment.
  The Brownback amendment is similar to legislation that was considered 
by the Foreign Relations Committee in May. That bill was reported out 
on a voice vote, but six members of the committee--six members--joined 
in submitting minority views in opposition to several of its major 
provisions. It had been my expectation that if this issue were to come 
up, it would come up in the course of calling up that bill, which is on 
the calendar, has been reported out of committee. That is the normal 
way one would expect to deal with substantive legislation.
  What we are confronted with here is an effort to attach this 
amendment to an appropriations bill. Of course, we all know the 
problems that are connected with doing that. It slows down the 
appropriations process. You often engage in major issues of substantive 
content, which really ought to involve the substantive committees, and, 
instead, it is shifted into the appropriations context. One would have 
to be naive not to appreciate that it is done on occasion, but I don't 
think it is a good idea.
  I must say, my view here on this matter is, in part, influenced by 
that. In other words, it is not as though the bill that came out of 
committee, which we considered and debated, on which we had a vote and 
on which some of us were in the minority, the bill went out, and it has 
been placed on the calendar. It is not as if that bill is before us--
substantive legislation. Instead, what we have now is an amendment that 
takes most of the content of that bill and seeks to add it as an 
amendment to the appropriations bill.
  This isn't an amendment that deals with numbers and figures. It is 
not, in effect, an amendment that falls clearly within the bailiwick of 
the appropriators. This is an amendment that really deals with a very 
important substantive issue of national policy. Senator Brownback 
proposes to change it, to take out of the law a provision that is now 
in the law. I think it is very important to understand that. In other 
words, the amendment offered by the distinguished Senator from Kansas 
would make a major alteration in existing law, and it would seek to do 
it, as I have indicated, in the context of considering the 
appropriations legislation.
  I can remember a time in this body where efforts to do that alone 
were reason enough to oppose an amendment. It was not too long ago. In 
other words,

[[Page S7868]]

efforts to really put in the appropriations context major changes in 
substantive law would be met with the contention that this should be 
dealt with by the substantive committee and ought not to be intruded 
into the appropriations process, that we should not ``legislate on an 
appropriations bill.'' How many times have we heard that 
phrase? Particularly, it seems to me when the legislation is on the 
calendar, it is available at an appropriate time to be considered by 
this body, in the proper context, where we could have the major debate, 
which I think this provision requires with respect to the substance of 
U.S. policy.

  Now, one of the things this proposed amendment does, which represents 
a major shift in policy, is the impact it would have on section 907 of 
the Freedom Support Act, which addresses the question of government-to-
government aid to Azerbaijan, so long as they maintain a blockade on 
Armenia. Section 907 precludes such aid.
  This amendment, in effect, would remove that provision in the law. To 
the credit of the chairman of the committee, he has offered an 
amendment that would knock out that provision. If that were to prevail, 
it would significantly reduce my concerns about this amendment, 
although I have some other concerns, not of the same magnitude as this 
  Let me address a couple of questions here. Section 907, in my 
judgment, made sense when it was enacted, and it continues to make 
sense today. To waive it in the absence of any progress toward a 
lifting of the blockade would reward the Government of Azerbaijan for 
its intransigence and remove a major incentive for good-faith 
negotiations from one side in the conflict between Azerbaijan and 
  For nearly a decade, the Government of Azerbaijan has prevented the 
transport of food, fuel, medicine--let me repeat that--food, fuel, 
medicine, and other vital commodities to Armenia and to Nagorno-
Karabakh, causing immense human suffering. During winters, much of the 
Armenian population has had to live without heat, electricity, or 
water. Schools and hospitals have been unable to function, and most 
Armenian industries have been forced to close down, crippling the 
economy and producing widespread unemployment and poverty.
  Think of this. Azerbaijan is imposing a blockade on Armenia --total: 
no food, no fuel, no medicines. The blockade has been particularly 
devastating because a similar restriction is imposed by Turkey on 
traffic to Armenia and because of the civil conflict that makes 
transport through Georgia difficult. Since Armenia is entirely 
landlocked, they are left with hardly any alternative. They have a 
small border with Iran; but, of course, that is the very outcome we do 
not want to encourage in terms of where they turn for supplies.
  This law was written in an effort to move the countries toward 
negotiating a peaceful resolution of their disputes. All Azerbaijan 
must do to get section 907 lifted is--and I quote this under existing 
law--``take demonstrable steps to cease all blockades against Armenia 
and Nagorno-Karabakh.''
  Again, they must ``take demonstrable steps to cease all blockades 
against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.''
  This is an entirely reasonable expectation, especially given the 
ostensible purpose of the amendment which the Senator from Kansas has 
offered, which is ``to promote trade and commerce and economic 
cooperation between the countries of the region.''
  He wants to promote trade and commerce amongst the countries of the 
region, and yet Azerbaijan is maintaining this embargo, which precludes 
any such trade with Armenia.
  The Government of Azerbaijan continues to thwart U.S. attempts to 
promote peaceful conflict resolution and regional economic integration. 
Although a cease-fire has been in effect in Nagorno-Karabakh since 
1994, Azerbaijan has not moved to lift the economic blockade. It is 
also seeking to exclude Armenia from all East-West commercial 
  Let me be very clear what the existing law, section 907, limits or 
retains, because this is an effort to apply in a nuance way an 
incentive, or a subtle pressure, to try to move the parties in the 
region towards a peaceful resolution of their dispute.
  We are not talking about commercial trade. Some people refer to this 
provision as an ``economic sanction.'' Let's examine that.
  The provision of the existing law, section 907, prohibits direct U.S. 
Government aid to Azerbaijan as long as they maintain this blockade. 
The proposed amendment would lift that. So the aid could be given even 
though they maintain the blockade, which, as I have indicated, I think 
would be a terrible step, a very harmful, substantive policy decision.
  We are not talking about commercial trade, which is usually where you 
debate economic sanctions. In fact, the United States has perfectly 
normal trade relationships with Azerbaijan. To the extent that U.S. 
companies may not be investing there, it is due to that country's 
economic and political instability, its corruption, and to the low 
price of oil--not due to a lack of U.S. taxpayer assistance.
  In fact, under the existing law, Azerbaijan receives U.S. assistance. 
It gets $24 million in economic assistance, which will bring it to a 
total of over $100 million since 1994. Because section 907, as it is 
now written in the law, does not apply to the Trade and Development 
Agency, the Export-Import Bank, to OPIC, to humanitarian assistance, to 
the foreign and commercial services, to activities to support 
democracy, nonproliferation, and disarmament, or aid through 
nongovernmental organizations, all of those activities can take place 
now under existing 907.
  So what 907 does in order to attempt to exercise a certain amount of 
influence in how matters progress in that area is restrict the direct 
government-to-government assistance. Assistance through aid through 
nongovernmental organizations is not touched. Even some government 
assistance, if it goes to support democracy, nonproliferation, and 
disarmament, can take place.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Will the Senator yield?
  Mr. SARBANES. I yield to the chairman of the subcommittee.
  Mr. McCONNELL. The distinguished Senator from Maryland has just 
outlined the ways in which 907 has been modified in many respects since 
1992 in order to further nudge Azerbaijan in the direction of getting 
this conflict settled.
  The Senator also pointed out that nothing yet has happened, and to 
take away the last remaining carrot or stick, if you will, that would 
encourage the settlement of this dispute, the Senator is entirely 
correct, would be a very bad policy decision.

  Mr. SARBANES. The Senator is absolutely right. This body has 
responded in the past. The argument was, well, if you just give some 
carrot, you would see some change in behavior.
  When we first started out with 907, it was much more restrictive. 
Over the passage of time, these various exceptions have been put into 
the law. But we have retained a more limited number of restrictions. To 
move them now altogether--I mean the ball game is over with. Why should 
Azerbaijan be concerned to settle anything?
  Some say, well this somehow is a sanction. What we are talking about 
here is whether U.S. direct foreign assistance will be made available. 
Foreign assistance is not an entitlement. I want to repeat that. 
Foreign assistance is not an entitlement.
  I hope people aren't going to get up on the floor and say: Well, 
somehow there is some kind of entitlement and, therefore, Azerbaijan is 
entitled to get foreign assistance. The placing of conditions upon 
foreign aid is both reasonable and appropriate for policy as well as 
budgetary reasons. It is a standard procedure. Conditions should not be 
considered sanctions. They ensure that U.S. aid serves U.S. interests.
  I doubt seriously, if Members would stop and really focus on it, that 
there would be any Member of this body who would suggest that we should 
give foreign aid regardless of the recipient's policies and actions; 
that somehow they have an entitlement claim to foreign assistance, and, 
therefore, there can be no conditions, or no restrictions placed on it, 
and regardless of what the recipient's policies and actions are, we 
need to provide that assistance.
  Let me turn to Azerbaijan's performance in the peace process, because 
there is a peace process underway. Conceivably, if Armenia was blocking 

[[Page S7869]]

peace process and Azerbaijan was cooperating with it, one could come 
along and say: Well, we have to make some accommodation to Azerbaijan 
because they are now working with the peace process.
  It is exactly the opposite. That peace process has been stalled since 
November when Azerbaijan, the very country that this amendment now 
seeks to free of any limitations on American foreign assistance, when 
Azerbaijan unilaterally rejected a compromise proposal put forward by 
the cochairs of the OSCE's so-called Minsk Group--Russia, France, and 
the United States. The OSCE has established a Minsk Group that is 
chaired by Russia, France, and the United States as cochairs, and they 
have been trying to develop a peace process to resolve this matter 
between Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan.
  In November of 1998, the Minsk Group called for a common state of 
Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh. The so-called common state approach 
was accepted by Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh as the basis for 
negotiations among the parties in spite of the serious reservations 
which were held by Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
  This is a proposal that the Minsk Group put to the parties in order 
to advance the peace process. Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, with 
concerns, nevertheless, accepted this development as a way of going 
forward with the direct negotiations.
  Azerbaijan summarily rejected the peace plan, threatened to overturn 
the cease-fire, which has been in effect, and then complained about the 
delay in finding a resolution to the conflict, and recently--from 
reliable reports--Azerbaijan has provoked a series of armed incidents 
along the cease-fire line.
  Furthermore, in addition to rejecting the peace plan, Azerbaijan 
objected to Armenia's proposals to foster regional cooperation through 
open borders and restoration of rail and road links in the Caucasus. 
Armenia's proposal was set out at the Transport Corridor Europe 
Caucasus and Asia Conference held in Azerbaijan in September of 1998, 
but Azerbaijan refused to recognize any of these rights or obligations 
insofar as they applied to Armenia.
  I want to underscore not only this recalcitrance but this absolute 
repudiation of the peace process, of this effort by the Minsk Group--
headed by France, Russia, and the United States, the three cochairs--to 
try to develop a peace process to resolve this situation in the 
Caucasus. Azerbaijan has refused to participate.
  Do not forget how the war started. After years of denying the people 
of Nagorno-Karabakh their constitutional rights and freedom, the 
government of Azerbaijan undertook a massive military offensive against 
Nagorno-Karabakh in the winter of 1993 to 1994. Although Azerbaijan 
launched the attacks, they encountered a better organized defense and 
were forced to negotiate a cease-fire, which has been in effect since 
May of 1994. As I indicated earlier, they threatened to overturn that 
cease-fire recently when they rejected the proposal of the Minsk Group.
  In the face of this behavior, it is now proposed by an amendment to 
lift the remaining few limitations on direct American foreign 
assistance to Azerbaijan. Obviously, Azerbaijan wants a completely 
normal relationship with the United States, but in a ``prod'' for them 
to rectify this situation and to give us a more stable, peaceful 
environment, that remains one of the prods we ought not give away.
  The waiving of section 907 of the Freedom Support Act would reward 
the party that has been intransigent in peace negotiations and has 
actually thwarted legitimate aspirations for democracy and justice in 
the region.
  I intend later to go into some detail with respect to the human 
rights practices in Azerbaijan, taken, of course, from the human rights 
report of the Department of State, the annual report that is made on 
human rights conditions in various countries around the world. I know 
there are others who want to speak, so I don't propose to do that right 
now. If we are seriously entertaining the prospect of changing this 
law, lifting the remaining limitations that are provided by section 
907, obviously one of the things we must do is examine the human rights 
practices of the country that is going to be freed from these 
  Let me read one paragraph from the State Department report, in lieu 
of a more complete exposition of this situation, which is what I hope 
to do later. This will give some sense of the problem.

       Azerbaijan is a republic with a presidential form of 
     government. Heydar Aliyev, who assumed presidential powers 
     after the overthrow of his democratically elected predecessor 
     in 1993, was reelected in October in a controversial election 
     marred by numerous, serious irregularities, violations of the 
     election law, and lack of transparency in the vote counting 
     process at the district and national levels. President Aliyev 
     and his supporters, many from his home region of Nakhchivan, 
     continue to dominate the Government and the multiparty 125-
     member Parliament chosen in the flawed 1995 elections. The 
     Constitution, adopted in a 1995 referendum, established a 
     system of government based on a division of powers between a 
     strong presidency, a legislature with the power to approve 
     the budget and impeach the President, and a judiciary with 
     limited independence. The judiciary does not function 
     independently of the executive branch and is corrupt and 

  Later the report goes on to detail numerous human rights abuses on 
the part of the police, the ministry of internal affairs, and the 
ministry of national security. As this debate progresses, I will seek 
to develop those points in order to make it clear that certainly the 
human rights record doesn't warrant eliminating the limitation. 
Certainly, the support of the peace process doesn't warrant what this 
amendment proposes to do. Certainly, the nature of the blockade which 
they have imposed, which goes to humanitarian goods and services as 
well as everything else, doesn't warrant lifting the amendment.
  The amendment, obviously, raises very difficult questions. It 
represents a major departure in substance in terms of our policy. I 
know the chairman has an amendment which will knock out this provision 
as it affects section 907. I am very supportive of that. I hope that 
will carry.
  In any event, I am very much opposed to the amendment. I am frank to 
say I don't think we should be dealing with this amendment on an 
appropriations bill.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Will the Senator yield?
  Mr. SARBANES. Certainly.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I have listened carefully to the Senator's comments 
which quite accurately lay out the sequence of events since the war in 
the early 1990s. Can my friend from Maryland think of any incentive 
whatsoever that Azerbaijan might have to settle this conflict if we 
repeal section 907?
  Mr. SARBANES. I think we will have eliminated the last prod that we 
have to try to get them to settle the war and enter into a more normal, 
peaceful trading and commercial relationship with Armenia.
  It is an irony that this amendment, this Silk Road Act, is supposedly 
to encourage commerce and trade amongst the countries in the region but 
that it has a repeal of 907 for one of the countries that is imposing a 
blockade on such trade and commerce with its neighbor.
  It makes absolutely no sense. It runs counter to the announced 
objective of the legislation and of the amendment. We have a situation 
where we have a cease-fire, we have a Minsk process in action. We have 
a proposal submitted by the three cochairs. Azerbaijan rejected it. An 
effort is being made to revisit that, to try to move that situation 
  I think to come in with this amendment at this time is certainly not 
going to help the peace process.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I ask my friend from Maryland, is it not true one of 
the things that Azerbaijan wants more than anything is a normal 
relationship with the United States? If they can achieve that without 
negotiation, this Senator is very pessimistic about the possibility of 
ever settling this conflict.
  I have had the opportunity to visit refugee camps in both of these 
countries. I must say to my friend from Maryland, I don't see any end 
to it. These people have been living in refugee camps now for 5 or 6 
years. If this conflict isn't settled some time soon, with its sense of 
hopelessness and despair, we will have children being born, growing up, 
and reaching adulthood in these refugee camps with no hope of a normal 
  It seems to me, as the Senator from Maryland has indicated, and I 

[[Page S7870]]

with him totally, we ought to be doing everything we can to encourage 
the end of this dispute--not to take steps that could well lead to an 
inevitable and lengthy process. Conceivably, this could never be 
settled. You could have these refugee camps there 10, 20 years from 
now, breeding hopelessness and terrorism and all the rest that we have 
seen coming out of refugee camps in other parts of the world.

  Mr. SARBANES. The Senator is absolutely right. The really 
discouraging thing was that the Minsk people made the proposal. That is 
the United States, France, and Russia, speaking on behalf of the OSCE. 
And Azerbaijan rejected participating in that process. Had Azerbaijan 
accepted it and Armenia rejected it, I can imagine people would say, 
Azerbaijan is trying to make the peace process work, Armenia is 
blocking it, and we ought to go ahead and enter into this normal 
relationship with Azerbaijan. But that was not the case.
  Second--I will detail it later--to some extent I am reluctant to 
detail the human rights performance, because one does not like to come 
on the floor of the Senate and go into a lengthy exposition of that 
issue. We want people to improve. When we do these human rights 
reports, we try to not, as it were, overload them. But now when you 
offer an amendment that is going to take out the last limitation we 
have on aid, it seems to me at a minimum it warrants a very careful 
examination of the human rights performance within Azerbaijan. I am 
frank to tell you I think, once we undertake to do that, most Members 
are going to have increasingly growing questions about the nature of 
this regime and about whether we should be trying now to repeal any 
limitations on providing assistance which could serve as a way to try 
to get a better performance.
  I have gone on for some time. I see my colleague from Michigan has 
been on the floor waiting patiently. I will come back, obviously, and 
revisit this issue; particularly, if necessary, to get into this human 
rights discussion.
  As you know, each year the State Department puts out a country report 
on human rights practices. This one is for 1998. This is in accordance 
with legislation enacted by the Congress. There is a lengthy section in 
here on Azerbaijan, which I think Members certainly ought to have in 
mind as they consider whether we should adopt the amendment offered by 
the Senator from Kansas which repeals section 907 of existing law. I 
want it to be very clearly understood, the amendment that has been 
offered makes a very significant change in existing law, and the 
second-degree amendment offered by the chairman of the committee would 
take out the provision that is most offensive in that regard, and that 
is the proposal of the Senator from Kansas to in effect give up an open 
waiver on section 907, thereby in effect providing for its repeal.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Crapo). The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I realize I have spoken on this a 
couple of times, but I have heard arguments put forward that I want to 
clarify my response to so it is in the Record.
  No. 1 is that the administration, the U.S. administration, the U.S. 
Government, is part of the Minsk Group. It is part of the group trying 
to negotiate a peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Clinton 
administration, they support my amendment. They supported it in 
committee this year. They supported it last year in the Congress. They 
think this is a good idea. This is the administration that is 
negotiating, part of the three outside members--France, Russia, and the 
United States--part of the overall Minsk Group, along with Azerbaijan 
and Armenia, that is negotiating this peace.
  So if this is ill timed, maybe we ought to tell the administration 
that, because they support my amendment.
  Mr. SARBANES. Will the Senator yield for a question on that point?
  Mr. BROWNBACK. If you will let me finish my statement. I have 
listened for a long period of time to the Senator from Maryland, so I 
want to just make sure this is clear.
  Mr. SARBANES. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. BROWNBACK. If I could just go ahead and finish my statement. You 
have had a good chance.
  The Clinton administration supports my position on this. They think 
it would help the United States in being an evenhanded negotiator so we 
do not have a set of unilateral sanctions, sanctions on one of the 
parties. They think that is important. They have supported it. We have 
letters to that effect. I will submit those for the Record for all my 
  Mr. President, we are not lifting the sanctions. We are providing the 
administration with the same national interest waiver, the same one 
that applies to all the former Soviet Union countries. It has in it 
requirements that if human rights abuses are taking place, we cannot 
provide aid from the United States. I noted in my statement I made here 
earlier, I think all these countries are having human rights issues 
being brought forward, including Armenia, including Azerbaijan. Those 
are things that should be taken into consideration. But we do not lift 
the human rights requirements. All we do in this amendment is to 
provide the administration with national interest waivers. We don't 
lift them. We provide the administration national interest waivers. 
They can leave every sanction in and put more on if they deem it wise 
and prudent and the right thing to do.
  They seem to me to be in the right position to consider whether or 
not sanctions should be lifted, whether or not human rights violations 
are taking place at the hands of the Azeris, the hands of the 
Armenians. I think there are enough human rights abuses to go around in 
this region. I think most of the reports will cite that as well. I 
think the administration should have the authority to determine that 
and move this process forward.
  I want to make sure it is clear to our colleagues. This is providing 
the administration the national interest waiver. It does not lift the 
sanctions. The administration can put those in place. The 
administration supports the position.
  In that regard, I have a letter from the President stating support 
for the amendment. I ask unanimous consent it be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the 
Record, as follows:

                                              The White House,

                                       Washington, April 19, 1999.
     Hon. Sam Brownback,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Sam: I congratulate you for your leadership in working 
     to strengthen ties with all the countries of the Caucasus and 
     Central Asia. The meeting you are hosting, in the context of 
     the NATO Summit, will provide an important opportunity for 
     dialogue among leaders from the region, Members of Congress, 
     representatives of my Administration, and other American 
     opinion leaders. Similarly, I share the goals reflected in 
     your bill, the Silk Road Strategy Act, and will work with you 
     to achieve them.
       The United States has a clear stake in the success of the 
     New Independent States of the Caucasus and Central Asia. 
     These young countries have stated that they seek stability, 
     democracy, and prosperity. We have a chance to contribute to 
     their efforts if we stand with them. The United States must 
     continue to play an active and balanced role in the Caucasus 
     and Central Asia--supporting peace in Nagorno-Karabakh and 
     Abkhazia; promoting democracy and market economics through 
     our assistance programs, which should be free from 
     unproductive restrictions; and improving the security 
     environment through bilateral programs and support for NATO's 
     Partnership for Peace.
       Your strong leadership helps underscore the bipartisan 
     nature of, and true national interest in, these issues. I 
     look forward to continuing to work with you to achieve our 
     common goals in this area.

  Mr. BROWNBACK. People can look at that. As far as this being a 
sensitive time in the negotiations, I support peace in the region, but 
this battle, this fight between the sides, has been going on since 
1992. We have had a ceasefire for the last 5 years. There has not been 
significant movement in the peace process or a significant proposal 
since 1997. If the administration thought it was such a sensitive time, 
I think they would be here saying don't offer this amendment rather 
than supporting my position.
  So I hope my colleagues will look at all these issues and determine 
the administration is probably right. This is something we should do. 
We should put everybody on an equal footing so we can work with all the 
people in this region, and I think that would be an important thing to 

[[Page S7871]]

  With that, I will be happy to yield for a question from my colleague.
  Mr. SARBANES. I listened to my colleague with interest. First of all, 
I find it intriguing he finds himself so supportive of the 
administration in this instance. Let me ask my colleague this question. 
Does he know of any administration that would not want to be given, by 
the Congress, a total waiver authority?
  Mr. BROWNBACK. I don't know that I can answer that, but I know this 
administration would appreciate that. But it is not just that. They 
also say here the administration strongly supports passage of the Silk 
Road Strategy Act, which may be added to the bill as an amendment. They 
appreciate the committee's continued efforts to reduce restrictions in 
section 907 of the Freedom Support Act.
  There is very specific and very clear support.
  Mr. SARBANES. Absolutely. Because the Senator gives the 
administration a blank check. No administration is going to spurn that. 
Every administration, if you offer them a blank check, is going to take 
it. They would be fools not to. Obviously they are supportive. You are, 
in effect, giving them all the authority. The Congress made a judgment 
in this matter, and it has consistently held to that judgment over the 
years, and I don't think Congress should go back on that judgment.
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Reclaiming my time, I note this is the administration 
that is negotiating peace in this region. They want peace as I want 
peace in this region. They are saying: Look, this is an appropriate 
thing to bring up at this particular time, and it will help us in 
moving forward to peace in the region. They are in a better position to 
judge that, with all due respect to my colleague from Maryland.
  Mr. President, my colleague from Michigan was kind enough to yield me 
time to speak. I appreciate that. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Mr. ABRAHAM. Mr. President, I enjoyed listening to this discussion. I 
spoke earlier on this same amendment and want to speak again.
  I am a cosponsor with the Senator from Kentucky of the second-degree 
amendment which was offered earlier today to the amendment of the 
Senator from Kansas.
  As many of my colleagues may know, contained within S. 579 is the 
waiver, which we have been discussing, of section 907 of the Freedom 
Support Act. Section 907 restricts some forms of U.S. assistance to the 
Government of Azerbaijan until it takes demonstrable steps to cease all 
blockades against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijan blockade 
has cut off transport of fuel, food, medicine, and other vital goods 
and commodities to these regions. This in turn has forced the United 
States to send ongoing emergency lifesaving assistance to Armenia and, 
more recently, Nagorno-Karabakh as well.
  The present conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has been the 
subject of an ongoing peace process. With the consent of the United 
States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, their 
Minsk Group, as we have heard, has been assigned the responsibility of 
fashioning a peace proposal satisfactory to the conflicting parties.
  Despite serious reservations, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have 
accepted the OSCE's recommendations. As the Senator from Maryland just 
pointed out, Azerbaijan has not. In fact, they have summarily rejected 
the compromise peace proposal. If Azerbaijan had accepted the 
compromise plan, cowritten by the United States, direct negotiations 
would already be underway, and this conflict may have well been on its 
way to being resolved.
  If we vote today to abolish section 907, we, in effect, would reward 
Azerbaijan's rejection of the OSCE compromise peace proposal. We will 
have undermined what I believe and what I think a number of my 
colleagues who have already spoken believe to be a primary objective of 
that proposal, which is ending Azerbaijan's ongoing blockade.
  The comments of both the Senator from Kentucky and the Senator from 
Maryland have been right on point. It could not be more self-evident 
that if the one and only leverage we have in the peace process to bring 
an end to this blockade and to the hostile relationships is taken away, 
there will be no incentives whatsoever.
  It would be, in my judgment, counterproductive in the extreme to 
create incentives for the intransigent party to stay the course, to 
remain intransigent. This, in my judgment, will not bring lasting peace 
to the region, and I question seriously the conclusion that apparently 
the administration has reached that somehow this administration, or any 
other, will be more effective as a negotiator if this changes.
  There are plenty of countries that have an interest in this region 
that do not have a provision like section 907 in place. Yet they have 
been no more successful in influencing Azerbaijan. The Minsk proposal 
was rejected by Azerbaijan. I do not understand how, in effect, 
rewarding Azerbaijan for its resistance is going to change anything.
  I want to comment on another point the Senator from Kansas made. He 
has mentioned several times today his provision, the Silk Road Act, 
includes a so-called national security waiver. He indicates that it 
does not, of course, eliminate the sanctions, it just simply allows the 
President to exercise the waiver which would remove those sanctions if, 
in the President's view, the circumstances allowed that. This 
provision, as the Senator from Maryland just said, would, in effect, 
give the President the power to repeal section 907 or to maintain it.

  However, its practical effect would be to eliminate section 907. The 
administration is on record, and very clearly on record, in supporting 
the repeal of this principal provision of the law and has been a vocal 
supporter of the Silk Road bill itself, as the Senator from Kansas just 
  The notion we are not, in effect, repealing section 907, we are 
simply putting the President in a position to consider using a national 
security waiver to repeal it, may be technically true. But as a 
practical matter, if we act today to eliminate section 907 and replace 
it with a waiver language that is suggested, we would be eliminating 
the section 907 sanctions automatically, because I find it hard to 
believe the President, in light of his statements and his support, 
would retain section 907.
  I reiterate to my colleagues the importance of our second-degree 
amendment. Irrespective of your views on the Silk Road Act, either 
substantively or, for that matter, as a part of the foreign operations 
appropriations bill, our amendment would be consistent with our 
policies in this region, and it would maintain existing law with 
respect to the Government of Azerbaijan.
  I hope my colleagues will support Chairman McConnell and myself and 
others who are supporting this very important amendment.
  Also, I personally believe the treatment that has been received by 
the people of Armenia--and this is not the only time in this century 
that the people of Armenia have been victims of actions by military 
forces beyond their control--the treatment is simply unacceptable. I am 
not saying there are not arguments of sympathy toward all parties in 
this region, but the U.S. Government made the right step when we 
instituted section 907, that we expressed an appropriate level of 
sympathy, as well as support, and appropriately so, for the people of 
Armenia. It would be a tragic mistake for us today to reverse course 
and to set in motion what, in effect, would be a repeal of section 907. 
It will send the wrong message to the Azerbaijanis, and I believe just 
from a human rights point of view, it would send the wrong message with 
regard to our feelings toward the people of Armenia.
  Actions such as that would not be evenhanded, but clearly it would be 
a decisive gesture on behalf of Azerbaijan. In my judgment, when one 
takes into account the entire historic scope of things, that is not an 
appropriate action for our country to take.
  I urge colleagues to support our second-degree amendment, to then 
vote their conscience with regard to the Silk Road Act, both on 
substance as well as its inclusion in this legislation. As I indicated 
earlier, I support the efforts of the Senator from Kansas in virtually 
all other respects with regard to this effort and with regard to that 
legislation, except for this provision.
  Today, on behalf of myself and the others who have joined on the 

[[Page S7872]]

degree amendment, I hope we will have support. Let's not make this 
dramatic change in American foreign policy in this context. Let's send 
a message to the people of Azerbaijan that we hope they will take 
seriously the negotiation of the peace process and that America remains 
firm in its resolve to not continue or to open up these additional 
forms of aid until such time as the proposal we have already offered is 
favorably acted on.
  Mr. SARBANES. Will the Senator yield on that point, please?
  Mr. ABRAHAM. Certainly.
  Mr. SARBANES. Mr. President, I bring to the Senator's attention a 
statement that was adopted on April 15 of this year by 23 political 
parties in Azerbaijan that are members of the movement for electoral 
reform and democratic elections. These are the major opposition parties 
in Azerbaijan. Listen to this:

       The existing Government of Azerbaijan, having usurped 
     powers as a result of a plot in 1993, created an 
     antidemocratic regime in the country, violated human rights 
     and freedoms, performed brutal repressive policies against 
     political parties and opposition forces, pursued and jailed 
     hundreds of citizens for political reasons, falsified 
     presidential elections, remained indifferent to the 
     assassination of deputies of the people, brought social 
     economic conditions of the population down to a deep 
     precipice, illegally redirected credits from foreign 
     countries for their own purposes, failed to achieve 
     significant improvements in the oil industry, created 
     conditions for the session of some already-signed oil 
     contracts, misappropriated industrial enterprises and 
     violated the labor rights of hundreds of thousands of 
     citizens, substantially destroyed the industrial potential of 
     the country, brought agriculture to a disastrous state, 
     created conditions where a selected group of individuals 
     accumulate state property in their hands but conceal it under 
     the name of reforms, raise corruption and bribery to 
     historically high levels and, thus, brought many sectors of 
     the life of the country to a state of catastrophe.

  Then they talk later--I am not going to quote it all--about the cruel 
pressure of the Government against the free and independent mass media, 
how citizens were illegally arrested for participating in election 
rallies and sentenced to jail terms.
  Imagine the courage it took to make this statement. And now the 
Congress of the United States is going to come along and repeal section 
907? What message does that send to these brave people who are 
challenging their own authoritarian government on its practices?
  The Senator is absolutely right. It would send absolutely the wrong 
message; would it not?
  Mr. ABRAHAM. It would.
  I say to the Senator from Maryland, I obviously do not know, with 
respect to each and every one of those issues that was raised by 
opposition parties, the full story, but I also would suspect that very 
few of our colleagues know the full story or have examined that aspect 
of this debate.
  It seems to me, in the absence of a fuller examination, it would 
really be a mistake for the Members of the Senate to vote to remove, 
effectively repeal section 907 unless they know more of the background 
that the Senator just discussed.
  I know the Senator from Maryland plans to discuss some of the other 
issues today, but I urge colleagues who are not on the floor and maybe 
are not following this as closely to just take note of that list and 
other similar kinds of lists of concerns that have been raised and very 
serious charges that have been leveled against the government that we 
would now, in effect, set in motion a potential plan to support. It 
seems to me this is the kind of issue that requires far greater 
scrutiny by the Members of the Senate before we would take that action.

  I appreciate the Senator from Maryland raising those issues at this 
  Mr. McCONNELL addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kentucky.
  Mr. McCONNELL. If I could pick right up on the comments made by the 
Senator from Maryland and the Senator from Michigan, we are talking 
about a major change in American foreign policy in this amendment. This 
is a very serious change in our policy toward that part of the world. 
It is not as if, as the Senator from Maryland has pointed out and as 
the Senator from Michigan has pointed out, the United States has no 
relationship with Azerbaijan.
  The administration already, without the repeal of 907, can do Export-
Import Bank loan guarantees and support. It can do OPIC insurance and 
support. It can do Trade Development Agency feasibility studies and 
support. It can do any activities sponsored by the U.S. Foreign 
Commercial Service. It can do election and democracy support. It can do 
Nunn-Lugar nonproliferation support. And last but not least, it can do 
humanitarian support, which includes food, medicine, and related 
  In other words, 907 has basically been stripped down over the last 
few years so that all of those activities between our Government and 
Azerbaijan can take place. So there is not much left of 907.
  But as the Senators from Maryland and Michigan have pointed out, what 
is left is significant because without it there is no real reason for 
Azerbaijan to pursue the much-needed peace with Armenia that the 
citizens of both countries richly deserve.
  So I thank both Senator Sarbanes and Senator Abraham for their 
contributions to this important debate.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. BROWNBACK addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I have noted in my opening statement, 
and I have noted later, the human rights issues that exist throughout 
the region. There is no doubt that they exist. I think the same 
standards should be applied to Azerbaijan as apply to the other 
countries in the region. And those do stay in place.
  This is talk of a major shift in U.S. foreign policy. I, again, 
remind people that we are simply providing the President with waiver 
authority. If he determines that human rights abuses are such that any 
of the sanctions should not be lifted, they will not be lifted. The 
administration is given that authority. We do not lift those sanctions. 
The President maintains that.
  I also note, in the human rights area--because this is an area of key 
concern, as it should be an area of key concern to everybody--we 
recently had a coffee for the Israeli Minister of Trade and Industry, 
Natan Sharansky. That name should be familiar to some Members. He is 
one of the leading human rights voices in the world. This is a person 
who understands the connection between the U.S. position and human 
rights problems.
  He was here specifically to support the Silk Road Strategy Act of the 
bill. He said this:

       Look at the human rights situation and weigh this against 
     the importance of the threat that is facing us. It is very 
     important to engage and to continue to encourage a 
     positive process and the way to do this is to strengthen 
     the role we are playing in the region.

  Strengthen the U.S. role played in the region. Sharansky is clearly a 
person who understands the importance of tying legislation to human 
rights. He is a clear beneficiary of that having been done in the past. 
This is one of the clearest voices in the world. That is not to deny 
that human rights abuses have occurred. But we are not lifting the 
standards of human rights. We are not saying that Azerbaijan has a 
lower standard than everybody else. We are saying everybody has the 
same standard. And we provide the President the national waiver 
authority. This does not shift U.S. policy if the President determines 
it is not in our national interest, which is the same standard we put 
to all countries.
  I plead with my colleagues to look seriously at this because while we 
can get down here in the weeds of some particular issues, we are 
talking about a region of the world that the Iranians are aggressively 
playing in now. All these Silk Road countries that I am talking about, 
the Iranians are there. They are providing aid, they are providing 
hate, and they are trying to overturn these governments. They can say 
that the authors of the amendment are saying: OK, let's just pull this 
907 provision out. The rest is fine.
  Azerbaijan is a key part of this Eurasian connection of connecting 
this region together for democracy, for a growing competitive economy 
that can stand against the threat of the Iranians and the militant 
fundamentalists expanding in this region that is taking place now.
  The notion that we have not looked at this enough--I bet we have had 
nearly 10 hearings in the Foreign Relations

[[Page S7873]]

Committee between this Congress and last Congress on this issue. It 
passed the Foreign Relations Committee last Congress and this Congress. 
We have looked at it and looked at it. I wish we studied most issues as 
much as we have studied this one. We have. This one has been around. 
People have looked at it. This 907 provision has been in place for a 
number of years and it has not helped Armenia.
  My final point here is, I am seeking, by this, to help all the 
countries in this region and U.S. policy. I am seeking, by this, to 
help Armenia as well. I realize that the people that are in opposition 
on this would not see that as such. But has our past policy helped 
Armenia? Has that been of any help?
  I talked with the Foreign Minister 3 or 4 months ago, and he talked 
about how terrible the situation was in Armenia. And I agree, it 
probably is. But that is suffering under the law we put in place. Let's 
try something that can lift the whole region up and build stakeholders 
who can say: We ought to cooperate and work together.
  Let's try something that can work instead of this failed policy that 
is a unilateral sanction. Let's provide to the President the authority 
to be able to do that, to move that peace process forward. This is the 
time to do that. I hope we can get to a vote here quickly.
  I inquire of my colleague from Kentucky, I know he would like to move 
this bill, it would seem to me that probably we have had sufficient 
time. If there is a chance to move forward and vote, I think we are 
probably getting to that point.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I say to my friend from Kansas, we are going to try to 
process a lot of other amendments. But we have not been offered a time 
agreement on this yet.
  I see my colleague from Maryland is on his feet. If he would like 
  Mr. SARBANES. I want to ask the Senator from Kansas a question, if he 
would yield for a question.
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Yes. And then I would like to yield to Senator 
Hutchison of Texas.
  Mr. SARBANES. Were any other countries encompassed within your Silk 
Road strategy that are imposing a blockade on their neighbors the way 
Azerbaijan is on Armenia?
  Mr. SARBANES. Who?
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Armenia.
  Mr. SARBANES. On whom?
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Azerbaijan. I think the Senator and I talked about 
this earlier today. The Senator will agree that Armenia has taken about 
20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan. The U.N. has condemned that. 
And what effectively you have in place is a mutual battle line that has 
existed between those two. The U.N. has condemned this action and told 
Armenia: Let's hold this back.
  Mr. SARBANES. The Minsk group is trying to resolve that issue. The 
war began because Azerbaijan moved into an aggressive mode. Does the 
Senator dispute that?
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Would you dispute who is occupying whose territory?
  Mr. SARBANES. Let's do it step by step. Does the Senator dispute that 
Azerbaijan began the war by moving into an aggressive mode?
  Mr. BROWNBACK. I don't think that would necessarily be the case. I am 
not going to start to debate the origins of that war.
  Mr. SARBANES. It becomes a highly relevant question, doesn't it?
  Mr. BROWNBACK. I think the relevant question is how we move forward 
in this region of the world. That is the issue that we debate.
  Mr. SARBANES. The argument the Senator made about trying to move 
forward was responded to by the committee in the past with the Exim 
exception, with the OPIC exception, with the encouraging democracy 
exception, all of the provisions that provide some aid. Now the Senator 
wants to lift any limitations altogether. I think any chance of getting 
this situation resolved will simply be gone.
  I know the pressures that exist. The Silk Road strategy involves 
tremendous oil interests. We ought to put that out on the table, I 
guess. Someone ought to lay that out as an important consideration. But 
it ought not to result in overturning what has been an established 
policy in the way we are trying to do it today, particularly in a 
situation when, last fall, we thought we would be able to move this 
peace process. Had Azerbaijan participated in the peace process last 
fall, we would have been able to move forward. They refused to do so.
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, if I could reclaim my time, my 
colleague from Texas is here and desires to address this overall issue. 
I yield to my colleague from Texas.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas is recognized.
  Mrs. HUTCHISON. I thank the Chair.
  I appreciate Senator Brownback giving me a little time to talk about 
this, because I think it is a very important issue. There are a number 
of American investments being made in Azerbaijan right now. There are a 
number of American jobs that will be dependent on our keeping a good 
relationship with Azerbaijan.
  I have been able to visit Azerbaijan. I was there at the same time as 
the distinguished chairman of the subcommittee. He knows this issue 
very well.
  I look at this a different way. I talked to the President of 
Azerbaijan while I was in his country and then when he visited our 
country to sign agreements with several American companies to do 
business in his country. It is of utmost concern to him that we are 
beginning to make investments in his country. He welcomes us. He wants 
to do business with us. Yet we have sanctions on his country because of 
internal conflicts.
  This is not a policy that is evenhandedly put forward by our country. 
We do business with other countries where we don't agree with the way 
they are treating certain people within their own country. There are 
border disputes with other countries, but we don't put sanctions on 
them in order to impose our will.
  I hope Senator Brownback's amendment will pass, at least this part of 
the amendment, because I think it is important that we send a message 
to the President of Azerbaijan and to the people of Azerbaijan that we 
want to be partners with them, that it is an important relationship to 
this country, and that we should continue to be able to help them work 
out this internal problem. But I don't think imposing our will on them 
is the right thing to do.
  Senator Brownback is trying to give the President the ability to 
maneuver in the interest of the United States. I think it is a 
reasonable request. It is a good amendment. I hope that the Senate will 
support it.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. SARBANES. Mr. President, in light of the comments of the Senator 
from Texas, I want to reemphasize something I said earlier. Section 907 
is not a sanction. There is no provision currently in place that 
prevents American companies from trading or doing commerce in 
Azerbaijan. The only thing section 907 limits is it doesn't allow 
foreign assistance direct from the U.S. Government to Azerbaijan unless 
Azerbaijan--listen to this --takes demonstrable steps to cease all 
blockades against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. So it is an absolute 
misrepresentation of the current situation to assert that this is a 
sanction. There are no trade sanctions. In fact, as the chairman of the 
subcommittee indicated, there are a number of Government programs that 
are operating in Azerbaijan.
  The only thing not now permitted is direct foreign aid. There is not 
an entitlement to foreign aid. All we have said--I think, quite 
reasonably--is that you can't get any foreign aid unless you take 
demonstrable steps to cease all blockades against Armenia. That is what 
907 provides.
  Why should we give them foreign aid and allow them to continue the 
blockade? We want the blockade to cease.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. SARBANES. Certainly.
  Mr. McCONNELL. The Senator from Maryland makes a very good point. I 
visited these countries. American business is there. The American oil 
companies are there. I do not know why the American oil companies are 
so interested in the repeal of 907 because it is certainly not 
inhibiting their ability to do business in Azerbaijan or to drill in 
the Caspian Sea. Some of us have had an opportunity to see those 
offshore wells. I might say that the American

[[Page S7874]]

oil industry is doing a wonderful job, very environmentally sound 
drilling practices in the Caspian Sea. It is high time because the 
Russians committed a number of environmental atrocities both onshore 
and offshore in Azerbaijan during their decades there.

  No American business I am aware of is being inhibited from doing 
business in Azerbaijan by what little remains of 907. I think the 
Senator from Maryland is correct in his interpretation of what remains 
of section 907.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, not to delay this extraordinarily, 
because I think we should move to a vote, we have had an extended 
debate. We have had extended hearings on this. It is time to go ahead 
and move forward to a vote.
  Mr. McCONNELL. We do not yet have an agreement to move to a vote on 
this amendment. That may come later in the day. We do have a number of 
amendments we hope to be able to accept momentarily. So I can inform 
the Senate, I hope we are down to just a handful of remaining 
amendments that might require rollcall votes. Obviously, the Brownback 
amendment, as amended by the McConnell-Abraham amendment, is one that 
is going to require a rollcall vote. Before we get to that, we are 
going to dispose of a number of amendments by consent very shortly.
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, if I could just reclaim my time, I want 
to correct one assertion that this is just about oil. I hope we would 
look at the people who live in this area of the world which is affected 
by this Silk Road Strategy Act. It is interrelated. It does all tie 
together to create this Eurasian corridor.
  If you pull Azerbaijan out of it and you say, okay, we will work with 
everybody but not with them, the corridor and its work towards lifting 
all of their economies in their countries doesn't work, we are talking 
a total of nearly 72 million people in this region. If you look at a 
map of it, you need to work on this together. They have a lot of 
pressure on them from various areas.
  You really need to have this all hooked in together. We need to 
replace 907 with a national interest waiver that the President can put, 
and then have a coherent U.S. policy so that we meet our interests in 
the region. It is clearly to have this engaged, not fall in the hands 
of the Iranians or back to the Russians, so we can build and grow with 
them and not force them to become militant fundamentalist countries.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I just want to join in expressing real 
reservations about the Brownback proposal that effectively would 
provide discretionary provisions to the President of the United States. 
Obviously, it has been represented by a number of those who have spoken 
on this issue that the U.S. does have interests in this particular part 
of the world. But it does seem to me, as someone who has followed this 
situation closely over a number of years, for the United States now to 
be in a position where we are seeing a significant alteration of the 
balance of power by taking unilateral action, rather than trying to add 
to a resolution of the dispute, I think, only makes it more 
complicated, more difficult to try to reach some real chance for peace.
  I think in many different parts of the world, ultimately, the people 
who do have responsibility, authority, and power have to be willing to 
come to the negotiating table and be prepared to make tough and 
difficult decisions. To think that the United States, by somehow 
changing and altering its position in terms of effectively siding with 
one side in this, thinks that we can really advance the cause for peace 
in that area, I think, is shortsighted. I think it really 
misunderstands the region and the historical and significant political 
forces at play in that region.
  All of us see there is a different opportunity in that part of the 
world currently. As we have seen the change in history in different 
parts of the world, whether in Northern Ireland, or perhaps even today 
in terms of the Middle East, or in other parts of the world, we have 
seen, with the change of circumstances by outside forces, progress 
made. But for the United States now to be in a position where it moves 
unilaterally in terms of its interests, I don't feel it really advances 
the cause of peace. There are those who have advanced different options 
about moving this whole political process forward, who can advance the 
country's interest in that part of the world in a positive and 
constructive way. But I fail to see how this change will advance that 
interest. I don't believe it does.
  I strongly support the position my friend and colleague, Senator 
Sarbanes, has mentioned. We find out now there are indirect contacts 
that are available and accessible. We have the private sector already 
engaged. There are indirect lines of support to Azerbaijan at the 
present time. But for the United States now to be in a position which 
effectively would commit itself to one side in this, after all of the 
various situations and the current situations, I think would be 
enormously counterproductive.
  So I certainly hope we will not take that action at this time. I 
don't think it is warranted. It is not justified, and I think it would 
be counterproductive in terms of the interests of the people in that 
region. There have been initiatives for the cause of peace in that part 
of the world. The Armenians have indicated a willingness to move that 
process forward, and those have been rejected, as I understand it, by 
the Azerbaijanis. For the U.S., under these circumstances, to be in a 
situation where we could effectively--and we understand what is really 
at the bottom of this, and that is effectively coming down on one 
side--I think there fails to be a persuasive argument about trying to 
advance this process for peace and real prosperity, and freeing that 
region from the kinds of tensions it has faced in the past.
  I hope when the Senate comes to deal with this issue, we will 
maintain what I think has been a sound policy in the past and, with the 
new initiatives out there in terms of advancing peace, try to find ways 
to move the process forward rather than interfering in these 
negotiations by favoring one side over another.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I strongly support the amendment to the 
Silk Road Strategy Act. I support the many worthwhile provisions in the 
Act, but I oppose the waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, 
which was enacted by Congress in 1992. Section 907 restricts U.S. 
assistance to Azerbaijan because of Azerbaijan's continuing economic 
blockade of Armenia. This blockade has led to great suffering by the 
people of Armenia, who have had to endure years of shortages of vital 
  Azerbaijan's cut off of fuel supplies had a devastating effect on 
Armenia's industry. Factories were unable to operate, throwing tens of 
thousands of people out of work. Malnutrition increased because of the 
shortage of food. Schools and hospitals had to shut down or operate 
under dire circumstances for only a few hours a day.
  Over the years, the humanitarian needs have been so great in Armenia. 
The 1988 earthquake, followed by the blockade, has resulted in 
continuing devastating circumstances for the people of Armenia. I can 
remember talking to doctors about the humanitarian needs of the Armenia 
people. I worked with the Department of Defense airlifting goods 
donated by the people of Massachusetts and other states to help 
alleviate the suffering.
  Although conditions are somewhat better today than they were a few 
years ago, Armenia still suffers from the effects of this blockade. It 
continues to obstruct Armenia's ability to import food, fuel, medicine 
and other important commodities and items.
  Unfortunately, the Silk Road Strategy Act contains no provision 
requiring Azerbaijan to lift this blockade as a condition of receiving 
additional U.S. aid. It makes no sense to reward Azerbaijan while that 
nation continues this inhumane blockade. Azerbaijan already receives 
$24 million a year in indirect U.S. assistance. Current law allows the 
Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Trade and 
Development Agency to provide support to the private sector, and USAID 
is authorized to provide humanitarian aid and democracy-building 
assistance to Azerbaijan.
  Section 907 is an important incentive for Azerbaijan to come to the 
negotiating table to resolve the continuing controversy between 
Azerbaijan and

[[Page S7875]]

Armenia. The amendment offered by Senator McConnell, Senator Abraham, 
and Senator Sarbanes will retain this essential lever of sanctions, and 
I urge the Senate to adopt it. Unless the waiver of Section 907 is 
removed, it would be a serious mistake for the Senate to approve the 
Silk Road Strategy Act.
  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I rise to support the McConnell amendment 
striking the provision in the Brownback amendment, also called the Silk 
Road Act, which would grant the President authority to waive Section 
907 of the Freedom Support Act. Section 907 is an important provision 
of our law which prohibits U.S. Government assistance to the Government 
of Azerbaijan until it takes ``demonstrable steps to cease all 
blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and 
Nagorno-Karabagh.'' For the last 10 years, the Government of Azerbaijan 
has resisted taking such simple steps and instead has maintained its 
blockade of the transportation of food, medicine, fuel and other 
important items to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh. The Azeri blockade has 
led to great human suffering while seriously hampering economic 
development of the region. I cannot support the Silk Road Act as 
offered because by allowing for the waiver of Section 907 we would be 
removing one of the last remaining incentives we have to induce the 
Azeris to enter into good faith negotiations over this conflict. I 
believe that we all have similar goals for the region which include: 
economic development and cooperation; fostering of democratic 
principles; and the adherence to universally recognized human rights 
standards. Allowing for the waiver of Section 907 runs counter to these 
important goals by rewarding a nation which has blockaded its 
neighbors, maintained an authoritarian government that took power in a 
nondemocratic fashion, and has a human rights record that has been 
recognized by the U.S. State Department as ``poor.'' I urge my 
colleagues to support the continuation of Section 907.
  Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I strongly oppose the amendment of the 
Senator from Kansas. This amendment gives the President authority to 
provide assistance for the countries of the South Caucasus and Central 
Asia--that is, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, 
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The purpose of this amendment 
is to reestablish the ancient Silk Road trading route and to gain 
access to the oil and gas resources of the region. In so doing, it has 
serious implications for Armenia and for ongoing international efforts 
to promote a solution to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan 
over Nagorno-Karabakh, because it allows the President to waive Section 
907 of the Freedom Support Act, which I originally authored. That 
legislation prohibited aid to the Government of Azerbaijan as long as 
it maintains a blockade against Armenia.
  One of the objectives of the Brownback amendment is to foster the 
development of regional economic cooperation. Yet, this amendment 
ignores some fundamental facts on the ground. First, Armenia continues 
to be blockaded to the east by Azerbaijan and to the West by Turkey. 
Second, Azerbaijan insists on establishing and maintaining east-west 
energy, rail and road corridors that deliberately bypass Armenia. 
Although Armenia is one of the countries that could benefit from this 
bill in theory, in reality it is totally isolated by the situation on 
the ground.
  This bill does nothing to address these realities. There are no 
provisions requiring that blockades be lifted or that all borders be 
opened before aid is extended. By failing to include these 
requirements, the bill in effect legitimizes these blockades and helps 
Azerbaijan to continue to use them to marginalize Armenia and keep it 
  The ten-year blockade of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh by the Azeri 
government has cut off the transport of food, fuel, medicine and other 
vital goods. This blockade has been strengthened by Turkey, which has 
had a similar blockade for the last six years.
  Section 907 is not a sanction but rather an effort to use the 
leverage embodied in US aid to create a level playing field for Armenia 
and to encourage the government of Azerbaijan to take some of the basic 
steps necessary if a peaceful resolution of the conflict is to be 
found. Section 907, as formulated in current law, prohibits US 
government economic and military assistance to the Azeri government, 
but it permits humanitarian and democracy building aid.
  All Azerbaijan must do to get section 907 lifted is to ``take 
demonstrable steps to cease all blockades against Armenia and Nagorno-
Karabakh.'' By allowing the President to waive Sec. 907, this bill 
legitimizes Azerbaijan's blockade and rewards its rejection of the 1998 
OSCE compromise peace proposal. This only complicates efforts by the 
international community to foster a settlement to the conflict. The 
greatest weakness of this Brownback amendment is that it is totally 
silent on the peace process.
  Mr. President, I will vote against the Brownback amendment and in 
support of the McConnell amendment, which removes the President's 
ability to waive Sec. 907.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, our foreign policy must reflect our 
values. That's why I oppose the Silk Roads Strategy Act amendment.
  The sponsors of this legislation say that we should build stronger 
ties with the nations of the South Caucasus and Central Asia. I agree. 
We must promote peace, democracy and economic growth in this important 
region. But to do this, we can't ignore basic human rights or 
fundamental American values.
  The Silk Roads Strategy Act would enable the President to waive 
Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. Section 907 prohibits most 
direct American aid to Azerbaijan until it takes demonstrable steps to 
cease all blockades against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Section 907 
has been modified in recent years to enable humanitarian aid and aid 
provided by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Trade 
Development Agency and the Export Import Bank. Yet Azerbaijan has done 
nothing to end the embargo and has been recalcitrant in the OSCE peace 
  American foreign aid is not an entitlement. We have a right to place 
conditions on our assistance. We have a right to demand that countries 
receiving US aid live up to certain basic humanitarian standards.
  For almost ten years, Azerbaijan has maintained a blockade of 
Armenia. This blockade prevents the delivery of basic human needs--
including food, medicine and fuel. What does this mean for the people 
of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh? It means terrible human suffering. It 
means a high infant mortality rate and poor maternal health. It means 
hunger. It means shortages of the basic needs of life--food, medicine 
and energy.
  Senator McConnell has offered a second degree amendment that would 
maintain Section 907. This is a reasonable approach. The McConnell 
amendment would enable us to strengthen relations with the Caucasus--
without compromising our values.
  I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the McConnell 
amendment--and in opposing the Silk Roads Strategy Act.

                     silk road strategy act of 1999

  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I think there has been more heat than light 
evidenced by those who have attempted to characterize what the 
amendment offered by Senator Brownback seeks to achieve with the 
proposed amendment or with legislation that he introduced earlier this 
year--the so called Silk Road Strategy Act.
  I call attention to the language of the amendment and what it seeks 
to achieve support, the bill has even more expansive language in these 
  Let me highlight for my colleagues just a few of these goals: to 
promote and strengthen independence, sovereignty, democratic government 
and respect for human rights; to promote tolerance, pluralism, and 
understanding and counter racism and anti-Semitism; to assist actively 
in the resolution of regional conflicts and to facilitate the removal 
of impediments to cross-border commerce; and to help promote market 
oriented principles and practices.
  The assistance authorized by this legislation is intended to promote 
reconciliation, economic development, and broad regional cooperation.
  Mr. President, I think we would all agree that these are appropriate 

[[Page S7876]]

and programs that are worthy of U.S. support.
  There is a great deal of misunderstanding about what the bill and the 
proposed amendment will do.
  It does not supersede the Freedom Support Act nor does it repeal 
section 907 of the Freedom Support Act which restricts assistance to 
Azerbaijan. Rather it gives the President the ability to waive 
continued application of the restrictions if he determines they do not 
serve United States national interests.
  I opposed last year's version of the Silk Road legislation because I 
believed it went further than was wise or necessary in superseding the 
Freedom Support Act and in the outright repeal of restrictions on 
assistance to Azerbaijan.
  Having said that, I have made no secret of the fact that I am 
increasingly opposed to Congressionally mandated foreign policy 
restrictions that do not include Presidential waiver authority. I think 
that it makes the conduct of foreign policy extremely difficult and is 
not the most effective way to promote the goals that Congress is 
seeking in the legislation it enacts.
  Senator Brownback has struck the right balance in the legislation 
that is before us today. It recognizes the challenges we face in 
promoting democracy and respect for human rights in the region and it 
gives the President sufficient tools to make progress in these areas.
  I believe it also gives an incentive for governments in the region to 
make progress in these important areas, knowing that if they do, they 
will improve relations with the U.S. and open the door to economic 
assistance which they need if they are to make progress to building 
democratic institutions in their countries.
  For that reason I support the underlying Brownback amendment and do 
not believe that the perfecting amendment offered by Senator McConnell 
is necessary.
  Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the amendment 
offered by the Senator from Kansas, (Mr. Brownback), the so-called 
``Silk Road Strategy Act.'' I certainly support the Senator's desire to 
promote peace and democracy in Central Asia and the South Caucasus 
region, but I remain concerned about the approach this legislation 
takes toward achieving these laudable goals.
  In particular, I am troubled by the provision in the Silk Road 
Strategy Act which would allow the President to waive Section 907 of 
the Freedom Support Act. Section 907 prohibits United States assistance 
to the government of Azerbaijan until it takes demonstrable steps to 
end the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh. No such steps have been taken, 
Mr. President. The blockade continues, as do human rights violations 
against the Armenian population in the region. I am concerned that the 
waiver of Section 907 would, in effect, reward the Azeri government for 
its refusal to end the blockade.
  For those reasons, I opposed prior versions of the Silk Road Strategy 
Act in the Committee on Foreign Relations in the 105th and 106th 
Congresses, and I signed on to the minority views contained in the 
committee report both times. Those views stated, in part, that ``to 
waive [Section 907] in the absence of any progress toward a lifting of 
the blockade would reward the Government of Azerbaijan for its 
intransigence and remove a major incentive for good-faith negotiation 
from one side in the conflict.''
  Mr. President, a decision not to provide foreign assistance to a 
government is not a sanction. The United States Congress has the 
responsibility to prohibit the provision of bilateral assistance to 
governments with which we have serious concern. This is not a sanction; 
rather, it is a means of making our foreign policy goals clear. Foreign 
assistance is not an entitlement. Section 907 plainly states that there 
will be no U.S. assistance to the government of Azerbaijan until the 
blockade is lifted. Period. As my colleagues well recall, this body has 
placed numerous conditions on bilateral assistance to a variety of 
countries. Section 907 is a condition, not a sanction. Moreover, many 
types of bilateral assistance are exempt from Section 907, and U.S. 
trade with Azerbaijan has been unaffected by this provision.
  I will support the McConnell-Abraham second degree amendment to 
strike the waiver authority for Section 907 from the bill, and I will 
oppose the Brownback amendment in its current form. I urge my 
colleagues to do so as well.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise in support of the 2nd degree 
Amendment offered by the Senator from Kentucky. Without the McConnell 
Amendment, I find that I must oppose the underlying Amendment offered 
by the Senator from Kansas.
  Although I think that many of the goals and objectives of Senator 
Brownback's Amendment are worthwhile--I too believe in establishing a 
policy of greater U.S. engagement with the countries of the Caucasus 
and Central Asia--I find that I must oppose this Amendment because it 
contains a fatal flaw: I do not think that Congress should get rid of 
Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which this Amendment does, so 
long as Azerbaijan continues its decade-long blockade of Armenia and 
  The McConnell Amendment, which retains Section 907, would fix this 
  Expanding Azerbaijan's eligibility for assistance from the United 
States without seeking progress on the resolution of this issue runs 
the risk of legitimizing precisely the sort of behavior which the 
United States, on the cusp of a new century, must seek to discourage.
  Azerbaijan is already eligible for U.S. humanitarian assistance, as 
well as funds for democracy building and many trade benefits. All that 
Azerbaijan has to do under Section 907 to be eligible for the full 
range of U.S. assistance is to ``take demonstrable steps to cease all 
blockades against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.''
  In other words, all it has to do is end hostilities, end an act of 
war, and seek to settle this dispute peacefully. If Azerbaijan were to 
take these simple steps there would be no need to repeal Section 907--
its restrictions would no longer apply. Is it too much to ask another 
country that it end a state of war before we provide it with additional 
foreign assistance?
  In fact, given Azerbaijan's continued unwillingness to make an effort 
to peacefully resolve this issue, gutting Section 907 rewards 
Azerbaijan for continued bad behavior, and sends a very disturbing 
message to others who might behave likewise. Basically we would be 
saying that it is O.K. to attack your neighbor, impose a blockade, stop 
food, fuel, and medicine from getting through to those in need, the 
United States will simply look the other way. In fact, we will do more 
than look the other way, we will consider offering you military 
assistance. I do not think this is the sort of message we should be 
  The nations of the region must solve their problems via direct 
negotiations and mutual compromise, not by acts of war. When Azerbaijan 
shows a willingness to end its blockade and seeks a peaceful resolution 
of the outstanding issues with Armenia then, and only then, should the 
United States provide it with the sort of assistance that this 
Amendment would allow.
  I urge my colleagues to join me in support of the McConnell 
Amendment. And, unless the McConnell Amendment, which retains Section 
907, is passed by this body, I would urge my colleagues to join me in 
opposition to the underlying Brownback Amendment.

                         Silk Road Strategy Act

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise in support of Senator Brownback's 
amendment to the FY 2000 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the 
aptly named ``Silk Road Strategy Act.'' This act puts in place a much-
needed strategy toward a much-overlooked part of the world, a part of 
the world that the U.S. would ignore at considerable risk.
  I commend my colleague from Kansas for the extraordinary effort he 
has committed to shaping this policy and drafting this legislation. 
Senator Brownback has spent several years studying this region, 
traveling through it, meeting with political leaders and economic 
decision makers and discussing his thoughts with the Administration. 
The fruits of this in-depth research and commitment are evident in this 
  I also thank my colleague for working with me to include language in 
this bill that strengthens the U.S. policy of opening these markets and 

[[Page S7877]]

these countries' level of economic cooperation with the United States 
through bilateral investment treaties.
  As the senior Senator from Utah, I am very fortunate to represent a 
State with many far-sighted international commercial ventures, and the 
language I proposed, which Senator Brownback has thoughtfully accepted, 
supports those interests by requiring the Secretary of State to report 
annually on the progress that is being made in negotiating investment 
treaties with nations of the region. I believe this measure will, for 
the time being, be sufficient to monitor progress in these important 
negotiations and will alert these nations to the serious concerns that 
the U.S. Congress has in protecting U.S. investments abroad. U.S. 
companies investing in this region should have the protections of 
bilateral investment agreements.
  This is entirely consistent with the strategy of the ``Silk Road 
Act,'' which is posited on the accurate belief that increased U.S. 
participation in this region is fundamental to their development and 
our interests.
  The economic component is only one part of the strategy of this 
amendment. By promoting infrastructure development, democratic 
political reforms, sovereignty, independence, and conflict resolution, 
the Brownback proposal will contribute to political stability and 
progress as well.
  Last fall, during a visit to the region, I went to the Republic of 
Georgia and renewed an acquaintance with Edouard Shevardnadze. An 
artful negotiator as foreign minister in the last years of the Soviet 
Union, President Shevardnadze returned to has native Georgia, which 
became independent as a result of the demise of the Soviet Union. As 
President of Georgia, Edouard Shevardnadze has been a stalwart promoter 
of democracy and an open economy, and he has done so under very, very 
difficult circumstances.
  Close to one-quarter of his nation's territory is not under central 
government control. Russian soldiers remain stationed on some of that 
territory, against the will of the Georgian government. President 
Shevardnadze has twice narrowly avoided assassination--one of his 
assassins freely resides in Russia today. In my discussions with 
President Shevardnadze, we discussed the need for increased U.S. 
attention to this region and increased participation by U.S. commercial 
interests. This ``Silk Road Strategy Act'' promotes these goals.
  The region of the world that this act addresses remains rife with 
internal conflicts, cross-border incursions, and--perhaps most 
disturbing--continued challenges by radical Islamic interests, 
supported in many cases by the extremists in Iran. If these conflicts 
succeed in destabilizing the region, millions of people recently freed 
from nearly a century of communist totalitarianism will be denied their 
economic and political progress, nations surrounding the region will be 
drawn into wider conflicts, and international markets will be affected.
  Further, and most importantly, if this region slips toward 
instability, I am deeply concerned that the U.S. will see the Central 
Asian and Caucasus States become the source of many future conflicts. 
Some of these conflicts could have troubling transnational consequences 
that directly affect us, such as the spread of terrorism and 
international crime.
  I commend Senator Brownback for this valuable legislation, which 
makes a solid and important step in refocusing U.S. interests to a part 
of the world that is important to us now, and will be even more 
important in the future.
  Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. President, I rise today in support of this 
amendment and the preservation of Section 907 of the Freedom Support 
Act. It is important that we maintain our commitment to the Armenian 
  One of the greatest foreign policy priorities in the post-Cold War 
world is to assist former Communist countries in making the difficult 
transition to democracy. The fall of the Soviet Union was not the final 
victory of the Cold War. That will come only when all of these former 
adversaries embrace liberty, free markets, and the rule of law. Senator 
Brownback's underlying amendment has the potential to further economic 
and political progress in the Caucasus and Caspian Sea regions. In its 
current form, however, it severely weakens one of Congress' central 
achievements of the post-Cold War era.
  The 102nd Congress in 1992, passed the Freedom Support Act. This bill 
acknowledged that we can help countries make the transition to 
democracy both with the carrot of economic aid and the stick of 
withholding such assistance. It included a provision, Section 907, 
which mandated that Azerbaijan will not receive any direct economic aid 
until it ceases the blockade of neighboring Armenia and the Armenian 
enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Even still, the United States has 
supported the Azeri people with over $180 million in humanitarian 
assistance through NGOs since 1992. The Foreign Operations 
Appropriations bill itself also allows OPIC and TDA activities in 
Azerbaijan which we approved last year.
  The Azeri blockade of Armenia and of Karabakh is a direct result of 
the dispute between the two countries over the status of Karabakh. This 
is the longest-running ethnic conflict in the former Soviet Union. So 
far, the human cost has been 35,000 lives and 1.4 million refugees. 
Outside of the conflict, the brutality of the Azeri blockade has been 
equally devastating for Armenia. As a land-locked country where only 17 
percent of the land is arable, its ties to the outside world are its 
lifeline. Humanitarian assistance cannot get to Armenia, which is still 
trying to rebuild from the devastating earthquake of a decade ago. In 
Karabakh, the blockade has produced a critical shortage of medical 
  True regional cooperation is unrealistic as long as this conflict 
continues. By passing the underlying amendment in its current form, we 
are virtually guaranteeing that the OSCE peace process will fail. 
Armenia will have little incentive to participate in the future, and 
Azerbaijan will receive the message that its rejection of any future 
peace proposals is acceptable. I support Senator Brownback's attempts 
to promote an East-West axis in the region, and I believe it is 
critical that we encourage these former republics to look westward. By 
allowing the blockade to endure, however, we are leaving Armenia with 
only North-South options. If our intent is to truly improve the quality 
of life in the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, we must make a positive 
impact on the Caucasus without undermining our commitment to the 
Armenian people. I urge my colleagues to support the McConnell-Abraham 
amendment and allow Section 907 to remain in place.