RECOGNITION OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE – ON THE AGENDA OF THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

The US House of Foreign Affairs Committee recently held a hearing devoted to the following topic: “Caucasus: Frozen Conflicts and Closed Borders”. And the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate was engaged in approving the candidacy of Mary Jovanovich as the new US Ambassador to Armenia.
   It is, undoubtedly, quite easy to see a certain link between the above-mentioned two discussions which were organized simultaneously, almost at the same time, because the topics devoted to Armenia were the pivotal issues included in the agenda of the hearings of both Houses.
   Furthermore, the Committees of both the House of Representative and the Senate held more attractive and fundamental discussions over the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States.
   In that context, both the official viewpoints of the US Republican Administration were expressed and the proposals of the Democratic majority of Congress and separate pro-Armenian MPs were advanced
   It is noteworthy that on June 19, on the eve of the above-mentioned hearings and discussions organized by the US legislators, Ken Khachikyan, Head of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), received a letter from Barrack O’bama.
   The candidate of the Democratic Party reconfirmed his previous statements on the necessity of recognizing the Armenian Genocide, appealing to the Bush Administration to change the previously adopted attitudes with regard to the matter. This means that the Democrats are pushing the recognition of the Armenian Genocide into the agenda of the pre-election campaign, becoming a target of criticism for the opposing party and its administration.
   It’s quite clear why in the explanations given to the US House of Foreign Affairs Committee Daniel Fried, Under Secretary of State on European and Eurasian Issues, touched upon the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the regulation of the Armenian-Turkish relations. Moreover, he not only focused on those issues but also revealed the American “zero variant” of the regulation of the Armenian-Turkish relations, a topic that was a subject of endless discussions during the past years.
   It consists of two parts.
   1. Turkey’s putting up with the dark pages of its history
   2. Armenia’s willingness to recognize the existing borders and not to demand territories from Turkey.
   However, attaching importance to the necessity of “putting up with the dark pages of history”, Daniel Fried avoided answering Congressman Dyane Watson’s question as to why the United States refuses to recognize the mass killings of the Armenians as Genocide.
   The same was repeated in the Senate during the discussions organized on June 19. In response to the persistent questions of Democrat Robert Menendez, Mary Jovanovich, candidate for the US Ambassador to Armenia, characterized the 1915 events as “Great Massacres”; on the other hand, however, she made an evasive response with regard to the attitudes adopted by the current administration, saying that “President George Bush, as well as the former Presidents elected from the two parties did not recognize the 1915 events as Genocide”.
   That’s to say, the American diplomat tried “to make it clear” to the Democrat-Senator that the President of the country rather than she was responsible for making a decision in that regard. Obviously, this kind of contradictory answer may serve as grounds for putting a veto on the candidacy of Mary Jovanovich since the concept “Great Massacres” is one of the Armenian variants of defining the term “Genocide”. However, Senator Menendez also touched upon the fact that G. Bush’s policy prevented M. Jovanovich from presenting 1915-1923 events in an exact manner, i.e. characterizing them as Genocide. In other words, the Senator revealed the true culprit. Thus, with the help of the Senate discussions, the Democrats created a political precedent: to touch upon the recognition of the Armenian Genocide at the most heated moment of the presidential campaign.
   Apart from the “oral” questions asked on June 19, Mary Jovanovich is to answer the written questions of the Senators as well. One of those questions has been asked by presidential candidate Barrack O’bama.
   Regardless the outcome of the Senate Discussions over the issue of appointing the new US Ambassador to Armenia, the recognition of the Armenian Genocide will become a subject of more active debates during the coming months. The Democrats will try to attract the votes of the electors while the Republicans will try to act as the defenders of the American “national interests”, reminding all the time of Turkey’s importance for the United States.
   Thus, the issue of recognizing the Armenian Genocide is being consistently included in the agenda of the upcoming debate between B. O’bama and J. McCain, becoming a powerful tool for the American diplomacy to use pressure against Turkey. All this can be estimated as a new and important stage in the process of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

 

 

VARDAN GRIGORYAN

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Filed under armenia, genocide, turkey, world

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