827) New US envoy declines to use g-word for Armenian killings

‘Instead of getting stuck in the past, and vocabulary, I would like to move forward,’ says Hoagland

U.S. President George W. Bush's new nominee for ambassador to Armenia has declined to qualify the Armenian killings during World War I as “genocide” despite pressure by leading pro-Armenian senators during his confirmation hearing at the Senate.

Bush last month fired John Evans, the previous U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, who had classified as “genocide” the Armenian killings in violation of official U.S. policy.

Nominated by Bush to replace Evans, Richard Hoagland appeared at the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee's hearing on Wednesday only to be grilled by three senators with Armenian genocide-related questions.

Republican Senators George Allen of Virginia, who chaired the hearing, and Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, the committee's ranking Democratic member, all said the Armenian killings clearly were the first genocide of the 20th century and urged Bush's administration and Congress to recognize the violence as genocide.

Allen, Coleman and Sarbanes said the American Armenian community was greatly concerned over the way Evans was forced to quit his job before the completion of a regular three-year tour of duty.

Hoagland tried to eschew insistent questions by the three senators over how he would qualify the Armenian killings during his planned tenure in Yerevan.

Recalling that in his last April 24 statement, Bush referred to the Armenian killings as “a tragedy the world must not forget,” Hoagland said, “I represent the president.”

Coleman said the U.S. State Department's “policy of denial” had put Hoagland in a difficult position. “The president's statement is a clear description of genocide. But you're not allowed to use the word,” he said.

“Instead of getting stuck in the past, and vocabulary, I would like to move forward,” responded Hoagland.

However, he said he had visited the genocide memorial in Yerevan and that he would visit it again if he were confirmed.

Hoagland said in the event of his confirmation as ambassador to Armenia he would work for boosted regional cooperation among Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Allen and Coleman said they were not against Hoagland but that they highly disapproved of the administration's policy on the Armenian killings.

Hoagland, who was the U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan before being nominated for Yerevan, needs the Senate's confirmation to take up his post.

Addressing an Armenian audience in the United States in February 2005, Evans said that last century's killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide. Warned by his superiors at the State Department, he then issued a “clarification” where he said his remarks reflected his own views.

Still pressed by Turkey, the State Department urged Evans to issue a further “correction” admitting that his remarks misrepresented U.S. policy.

However, he was fired in May “after continuing to deviate from the official U.S. policy,” U.S. government sources said.

Evans' firing has led to an uproar in the Armenian American community and among pro-Armenian lawmakers in Congress.

WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News
Friday, June 30, 2006

US Senate Hears Candidacy For US Ambassador To Armenia

While Members of Congress and the Armenian community demand a full explanation for the premature replacement of Ambassador to Armenia John M. Evans, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the Administration's nominee, Richard E. Hoagland, reports the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA). Senator George Allen (R-VA), who chaired the proceedings, noted that there have been serious concerns that Evans was forced to prematurely end his service as a result of those public declarations. "I don't know this to be true," Allen said, referring to the circumstances surrounding Evans' departure. "[I] will say that many of my colleagues and I refer to the tragic events of 1915 as genocide and have strongly encouraged the President to do so as well."

Allen asked Hoagland a series of questions on the issue of the Armenian Genocide beginning with the Administration's policy towards referring to the events of 1915. Hoagland responded that no one in the Administration has ever denied the tragic events that befell the Armenians. He said his visit to the Genocide Museum and Memorial in Yerevan was a very sobering and disturbing experience, but added that the Administration's position is clear and that, if confirmed, he would uphold U.S. policy. Allen next asked him if he received specific instructions on how to address the Armenian Genocide. Hoagland answered that he hadn't, reiterating that "whatever we say must be consistent with the Administration and its policy."

Following Allen, Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) began his line of questioning. The Senator said he understood the nominee was in a difficult position, recognizing that Hoagland "can't utter the word genocide." He expressed hope that the U.S. would reaffirm the genocide, saying that "you can't look to the future if you deny the past." Switching topics, Coleman questioned Hoagland over the Turkish blockade against Armenia, asking him how he plans to address this issue. Hoagland responded that he would support talks between the countries, noting that a peaceful resolution to the NK conflict was paramount.

In his statement, Hoagland stressed the importance of strengthening U.S.-Armenia ties and said that if confirmed, he would work to advance democratic and social reforms.

30 June 2006,
Resource : Panarmenian

Incoming US ambassador to Yerevan doesn't use word 'genocide'

U.S. senators failed to persuade the nominee for U.S. ambassador to Yerevan to use word 'genocide' while describing events of 1915 at his confirmation hearings Wednesday in the Senate.

"I have not received any kind of written instruction about this," Ambassador-designate Richard E. Hoagland said. "I simply have studied the president's policy. I've studied the background papers on the policy. And my responsibility is to support the president."

While declining to say the word "genocide," Hoagland, who is currently the ambassador to Tajikistan, said, "I fully agree that the events that occurred in 1915 and following were of historic proportions, as I said, well-documented, horrific, horrifying."

He quoted Maryland democrat Senator Paul Sarbanes, who read a statement about the situation, that "hundreds of valleys (were) devastated, no family untouched. It was historic. It was a tragedy and everyone fully agrees with that, sir."

U.S. President George W. Bush, in a presidential message on the 91st anniversary of April 24, called the events "a terrible chapter of history" that "remains a source of pain for people in Armenia and for all those who believe in freedom, tolerance and the dignity and value of every human life."

Bush is ordering home their current ambassador in Yerevan, John Evans, two years into the normally three-year diplomatic term. In announcing his recall last month, the White House gave no reason and praised Evans for his service. Last Sunday was his second anniversary in the Armenian capital. In February 2005 Evans told Armenian-Americans, "The Armenian genocide was the first genocide of the 20th century."

Sixty members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice protesting that Evans was being punished for his reference to "genocide." In a separate letter, Democratic Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts demanded an explanation from Rice for Evans' recall.

The events occurred during the expulsion of ethnic Armenians from eastern Turkey into Syria in 1915 and 1916. Turkish officials have traditionally maintained that 300,000 people died. Armenian terrorists, mainly members of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), roamed through Europe and the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s and claimed more than 60 attacks against Turkish targets. The army claimed the campaign killed 30 Turkish diplomats and dependents.

TNA with AP / Washington
30 June 2006



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