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In another foray into international politics, the California Assembly passed a resolution calling for the independence of an Armenian-dominated enclave in Azerbaijan.

Calling the Azerbaijani borders that encompass the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region an example of a country "improperly drawn by Stalin," Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, urged the Assembly to take a stand despite its lack of authority to set or enforce foreign policy. He drew a parallel to resolutions condemning apartheid in South Africa or the treatment of gays and lesbians in Russia.

"California can on issues of relevance to our constituents and, on issues of moral clarity, continue to be a thought leader that seeks to motivate change," Gatto said.

Many lawmakers invoked lofty ideals of freedom and self-determination. Others delved into their personal relationship to the issue.

"This is one of those issues, probably one of the hallmark issues, that's led me to want to serve in public service and to be here," said Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Burbank, describing how his grandparents were forced to flee the region Armenians call Artsakh. "This has been the tormented history," Nazarian added, "of a group of people who have been very determined to pursue their freedom."

Assembly Joint Resolution 32 passed on a 70-1 vote, with only Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, dissenting. Armenian visitors in the gallery applauded loudly after that measure advanced. Gatto then introduced the Armenian deputy counsel general on the Assembly floor, also prompting an ovation.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obipso speaks with Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Burbank during session in the Assembly chambers on Monday, March 11, 2013. Both of Armenian heritage, Nazarian and Achadjian spoke in favor of the Nagorno-Karabakh resolution. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.



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