Monday, May 5, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008
I apologize if it seems as though most of my latest posts are straight out of the ANCA Newsletters but I do believe that they include important information that needs to be put out there. More coverage can be found on the ANCA website.
The need for change: The Bush Administration’s record
The pressing need for fundamental change in how the United States addresses issues of special concern to Armenian Americans is highlighted by a review of the current Administration’s record in twelve key areas:
1) Broken campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide
Almost immediately after taking office, President Bush abandoned his campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Rather than honor this promise, the President has, in his annual April 24th statements, used evasive and euphemistic terminology to avoid describing Ottoman Turkey's systematic and deliberate destruction of the Armenian people by its proper name - the Armenian Genocide. Moreover, the Administration has echoed the Turkish government’s denial by claiming that the Armenian Genocide, one of the most studied genocides of the 20th century, “should be a matter of historical inquiry, not legislation.” On October 17, 2007, after the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the Armenian Genocide Resolution, President Bush argued that, “one thing Congress should not be doing is sorting out the historical record of the Ottoman Empire,” claiming there was “more important work to do.”
2) Opposition to the Congressional Genocide Resolution
The Bush Administration, throughout its tenure, has actively sought to block the adoption of the Genocide Resolution in both the House and Senate. As recently as October of last year, the President spoke to the national media from the White House, on more than one occasion, against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and personally lobbied Members of Congress to prevent the commemoration of this crime.
3) The Evans firing and the Hoagland nominations
The Bush Administration fired U.S. Ambassador John Evans, a career Foreign Service officer with 35 years of experience, simply for speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide. Despite numerous Congressional inquiries, his Administration continuously attempted to cover up the true reasons for Evans’ removal and the Turkish government’s protests over his statements. When the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) awarded John Evans the Christian Herter prize for constructive dissent, Administration officials forced AFSA to rescind the award just days before Turkish President Erdogan came to Washington, DC to meet with President Bush.
The President’s nominee to replace Ambassador Evans, Dick Hoagland, denied the Armenian Genocide in response to Senate inquiries during his confirmation process. After being blocked by a Senatorial “hold” placed by Robert Menendez in the 109th Congress, the President again nominated Ambassador Hoagland, only to have this nomination blocked once again on the grounds that a diplomat who denies the Armenian Genocide cannot serve effectively as the U.S. representative to Armenia.
4) The Waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act
The Bush Administration, in 2001, aggressively pressured Congress into granting the President the authority to waive Section 907, a provision of law that bars aid to the government of Azerbaijan until it lifts its blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. President Bush has subsequently used this authority to provide direct aid, including military assistance, to the government of Azerbaijan, despite their continued violation of the provisions of this law.
5) Reduction in aid to Armenia
In the face of the devastating, multi-billion dollar impact of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades on the Armenian economy, President Bush has, in each of his years in office, proposed to Congress that Freedom Support Act humanitarian and developmental aid to Armenia be reduced.
6) Abandonment of the Military Aid Parity Agreement
The Bush Administration abandoned its November 2001 agreement with Congress and the Armenian American community to maintain even levels of military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan. In successive budgets submitted to Congress, the President effectively sought to tilt the regional military balance in favor of Azerbaijan, undermining the role of the U.S. as an impartial mediator, despite Azerbaijan's increasingly violent threats of renewed aggression.
7) Mistaken Listing of Armenia as a Terrorist Country
The Bush Administration sought, unsuccessfully, in December of 2002 to place Armenia on an Immigration and Naturalization Service watch list for terrorist countries. This obvious error was reversed only after a nation-wide protest campaign. Neither the White House nor the Department of Justice has apologized for the offense caused by this mistake.
8) Lack of U.S.-Armenia Presidential visitations
The President neither visited Armenia nor did he invite the President of Armenia to visit the United States, despite similar visits by the leaders of Georgia and Azerbaijan.
9) Failure to maintain a balanced policy on Nagorno Karabagh
The Bush Administration, to its credit, took an early initiative to help resolve the Nagorno Karabagh issue in the form of the Key West summit meeting in 2001 between Secretary of State Powell and the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. After Azerbaijan's failure to honor its Key West commitments, however, the Administration failed to hold Azerbaijan accountable for unilaterally stalling the Nagorno Karabagh peace process.
10) Taxpayer financing of the Baku-Ceyhan bypass of Armenia
The Bush Administration supported American taxpayer subsidies for the politically motivated Baku-Ceyhan pipeline route that, at the insistence of Turkey and Azerbaijan, bypassed Armenia.
11) Refusal to pressure Turkey and Azerbaijan to end their blockades
The Bush Administration has not forcefully condemned the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades as clear violations of international law, nor, outside of occasional public statements, has it taken any meaningful steps to pressure the Turkish or Azerbaijani governments to end their illegal border closures.
12) Neglect of relations with the Armenian American community
Breaking with the tradition of the last several Administrations, the Bush White House failed to reach out in any meaningful way to our nation's one and a half million citizens of Armenian heritage. While the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council maintained their long-standing, policy-level dialogue with the Armenian American community leadership, the White House itself essentially neglected Armenian Americans as a civic constituency.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Alone among the Presidential candidates, I have been a longstanding supporter of the . I have been a co-sponsor of the Resolution since 2002, and I support adoption of this legislation by both Houses of Congress.
I believe the horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide. I have twice written to calling on him to refer to the Armenian Genocide in his annual commemorative statement and, as President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide. Our common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.
If the mass atrocities of the 20th Century have taught us anything it is that we must honestly look the facts of history in the face in order to learn their lessons, and ensure they will not happen again. It is not just about the past, but about our future. We must close the gap between words and deeds to prevent mass atrocities. That is why I am a supporter of the Responsibility to Protect. As President, I will work to build and enhance U.S. and international capacity to act early and effectively to prevent mass atrocities. The Bush administration’s words of condemnation have not been backed with leadership to stop the genocide in Darfur. I support a no-fly-zone over . I have championed strong international action to ensure that the government of Sudan can no longer act with impunity, or interfere with the international peacekeeping force, which is essential for the protection of the people of .
I value my friendship with our nation’s vibrant Armenian-American community. This is in keeping with my dedication to the causes of the Armenian-American community over many years. I was privileged as First Lady to speak at the first-ever White House gathering in 1994 for leaders from and the Armenian-American community to celebrate the historic occasion of ’s reborn independence. I said at the time that America will stand with you as you realize what the great Armenian poet, Puzant Granian, called the Armenian’s dream “to be left in peace in his mountains, to build, to dream, to create.”
I will, as President, work to expand and improve U.S.-Armenia relations in addressing the common issues facing our two nations: increasing trade, fostering closer economic ties, fighting terrorism, strengthening democratic institutions, pursuing our military partnership and deepening cooperation with , and cooperating on regional concerns, among them a fair and democratic resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. As President, I will expand U.S. assistance programs to and to the people of Nagorno-Karabagh.
I look forward, as President, to continuing to work with the Armenian-American community on the many domestic and international challenges we face together, and to build on the strong foundations of shared values that have long brought together the American and Armenian peoples.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I urge you to read these stories as well...
Hye Santa 2008
Barack Obama on the Importance of U.S.-Armenia Relations
| January 19, 2008 |
I am proud of my strong record on issues of concern to the one and a half million Americans of Armenian heritage in the United States. I warmly welcome the support of this vibrant and politically active community as we change how our government works here at home, and restore American leadership abroad.
I am a strong supporter of a U.S.-Armenian relationship that advances our common security and strengthens Armenian democracy. As President, I will maintain our assistance to Armenia, which has been a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism. I will promote Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America's founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination. And my Administration will help foster Armenia's growth and development through expanded trade and targeted aid, and by strengthening the commercial, political, military, developmental, and cultural relationships between the U.S. and Armenian governments.
I also share with Armenian Americans – so many of whom are descended from genocide survivors - a principled commitment to commemorating and ending genocide. That starts with acknowledging the tragic instances of genocide in world history. As a U.S. Senator, I have stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. Two years ago, I criticized the Secretary of State for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term "genocide" to describe Turkey's slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. I shared with Secretary Rice my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Genocide, sadly, persists to this day, and threatens our common security and common humanity. Tragically, we are witnessing in Sudan many of the same brutal tactics - displacement, starvation, and mass slaughter - that were used by the Ottoman authorities against defenseless Armenians back in 1915. I have visited Darfurian refugee camps, pushed for the deployment of a robust multinational force for Darfur, and urged divestment from companies doing business in Sudan. America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President.
I look forward, as President, to continuing my active engagement with Armenian American leaders on the full range of issues of concern to the Armenian American community. Together, we will build, in new and exciting ways, upon the enduring ties and shared values that have bound together the American and Armenian peoples for more than a century.