Susan B. Glasser's Jan. 12 news story, "Town's Defiance an Unexpected Test for Azerbaijan," discussed Congress's ban on assistance to Azerbaijan, the infamous Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act.

Section 907 has no reason to exist other than the local Armenian diaspora's narrow ethnic interests and some legislators' electoral considerations. The unjustifiable nature of these sanctions resulted in opposition to Section 907 by all U.S. administrations since the first Bush administration. Only after Sept. 11, 2001, did comprehension of the importance of Azerbaijan's role, place and unconditional support in fighting terrorism lead Congress to grant the president much-needed waiver authority.

HAFIZ PASHAYEV

Ambassador

Embassy of the

Republic of Azerbaijan

Washington

I commend The Post for its honest assessment of the state of democracy in Azerbaijan. President Heydar Aliyev and the dynasty, threatening Nagorno-Karabakh with a new war and the region with greater instability, often use the war as a pretext to strengthen their dictatorial grip on power.

Economic development, energy transportation routes, and peace and stability in the strategic South Caucasus heavily depend on shared values and friendship among neighbors in the region, including de facto immediate neighbors Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Hopefully, with U.S. encouragement, commitment to true democracy and respect for human rights will be our common guideposts along this road.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN

Representative of the

Nagorno-Karabakh Republic

in the United States

Washington