Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles Times photo)

Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles Times photo)

California’s Democratic gubernatorial hopeful and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, through a statement sent to Asbarez, walked back comments he made in praise of Azerbaijan’s human rights record during a 2014 junket to Baku.

Villaraigosa traveled to Baku in October of 2014 and was a speaker at the government-sponsored Baku International Humanitarian Forum, where Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev also spoke. In a television interview while in Baku Villaraigosa called Azerbaijan a “model nation” and a “force for peace.”

“After serving as Mayor, I misspoke about the Azerbaijani human rights record at a conference in Baku. Since then, I’ve had an opportunity to confer with human rights organizations who have chronicled Azerbaijan’s human rights record as one of the world’s worst. I condemn the invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan and am resolute in my support for a free and Democratic Artsakh,” said Villaraigosa in a statement forwarded to Asbarez on the occasion of the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

While mayor, Villaraigosa (second from left) welcomed Artsakh president Bako Sahakian (second from right) to City Hall. Also pictures Councilmember Paul Krekorian (right) and current LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

While mayor, Villaraigosa (second from left) welcomed Artsakh president Bako Sahakian (second from right) to City Hall. Also pictures Councilmember Paul Krekorian (right) and current LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

He preceded that above comment by saying: “in 2010, I met with Nagorno‐Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian for talks on bilateral relations between Nagorno‐Karabakh and the City of Los Angeles.”

Below is the complete text of Villaraigosa’s statement.

As we commemorate the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, I once again stand firm with Armenian Americans to recognize the Armenian Genocide and honor the 1.5 million martyrs who were killed at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish Government.

It is long past time that the United States and all Western Governments recognize the Armenian Genocide. We must also denounce the invasion and violation of the sovereignty of the people of Artsakh by Azerbaijan.

Throughout my two decades of public service I have always worked hard to reach out to and work with Armenian Americans and their various civic and religious institutions. I have promoted a shared vision of democracy, inclusion, civil and human rights.

Since the early 1990s, I have repeatedly introduced resolutions condemning the Armenian Genocide in both the California State Legislature and the City Council.

In 2010, I met with Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian for talks on bilateral relations between Nagorno‐Karabakh and the City of Los Angeles.

In 2012, I met with Armenian Prime Minster Tigran Sargsyan at Los Angeles City Hall where we discussed trade, tourism, and foreign direct investment.

After serving as Mayor, I misspoke about the Azerbaijani human rights record at a conference in Baku. Since then, I’ve had an opportunity to confer with human rights organizations who have chronicled Azerbaijan’s human rights record as one of the world’s worst. I condemn the invasion of Nagorno‐Karabakh by Azerbaijan and am resolute in my support for a free and Democratic Artsakh.

As Governor, I commit to remaining steadfast in my recognition of the Armenian Genocide and will use the power of my office to promote strong bi-­‐lateral ties with Armenia, including the promotion of trade and tourism. My appointees will reflect California’s amazing diversity through consultation with Armenian organizations to ensure strong representation from the Armenian American community.


Source: Asbarez
Link: Villaraigosa Walks Back Praise for Baku’s Human Rights Record

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