Eighty-two Armenian clergymen serving in the United States—the entire compliment of priests in the Western and Eastern dioceses—have signed a letter to President Trump calling for his personal diplomatic intervention in the Artsakh war.
Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, and Bishop Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, were the two principal signatories of the letter sent on October 8, 2020, to the White House and to U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo.
After wishing President Trump a quick recovery from his recent illness, the letter urges: “We call upon you to intervene to save the innocent people of Artsakh from Azeri and Turkish aggression.”
“Today Turkey, through its military, is supporting Azerbaijan, including by paying militant jihadists from Syria to fight alongside Azeri troops in effort of cleansing Armenians from Artsakh,” the letter says. “We have heard credible reports that F-16 fighters that America sold to Turkey are being used in battle against Armenia and Artsakh and deliberately targeting the civilian population. Our people have suffered through the genocide once in the hands of the Ottoman Empire and we refuse to stand idle and let it happen again.”
It goes on: “On October 8, the armed forces of Azerbaijan launched airstrikes at the Holy Savior Cathedral located in the cultural capital of Artsakh, Shushi, causing significant damages and injuring multiple journalists. The United States of America must intervene or face living with the remorse of ignoring the plea of Christian Armenians calling for peace. Make no mistake this is an attempt by Turkey and Azerbaijan of genocide.”
The clergy make a direct appeal to President Trump to exert pressure on Turkey’s leader to halt the aggression against Artsakh and Armenia. “We urge you to call on [Turkey’s] President Recep Erdogan and tell him to stop aiding Azerbaijan in killing innocent Christians. We do not want this to become a regional conflict and take the lives of thousands. When will someone stop the tyrant Erdogan? Will he be allowed to continue to threaten global security and conquer all the way to Jerusalem, as he recently claimed it to belong to Turkey?”
In the letter, the clergymen briefly sketch the history of Artsakh and Armenia as centuries-old Christian strongholds, and reference the decisions in the Soviet era that isolated Artsakh as an autonomous region within Azerbaijan. The writers appeal to the President as a “man of faith” whose actions would “prevent an ungodly tragedy from unfolding.”
“Armenians are fighting against terrorism and our homeland needs you to show your Christian zeal and stand firm with the people of the Land of Noah,” the letter concludes.
The co-signing clergy include active and retired priests, as well as two long-serving archbishops of the church, Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian (former Primate of the Western Diocese) and Archbishop Vicken Aykazian (Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director of the Eastern Diocese).