Menendez, Boxer Ask Kerry Questions On Armenian-American Concerns


Secretary of State-designate John Kerry

WASHINGTON—Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) questioned Secretary of State-designate John Kerry on a range of Armenian American concerns – from U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide to our nation’s efforts to address ongoing Azerbaijani threats against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh – during the confirmation process for President Obama’s nominee for this top diplomatic post, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

“We would like, first and foremost, to thank Senators Menendez and Boxer for raising Armenian issues with Secretary-designate Kerry during his confirmation hearing, and also to welcome Secretary Kerry to our nation’s top diplomatic posting,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

Sen. Robert Menendez

“These responses by Senator Kerry, who, brings to this position a record of more than 30 years as a legislator as a champion of Armenian Genocide recognition, sadly reflect President Obama’s own public retreat, under pressure from Ankara, from his principled stand in support of a full and forthright American condemnation of Turkey’s still unpunished crime against all of humanity.”

Commenting on Senator Kerry’s reference to the failed Turkey-Armenia Protocols as a means of normalizing relations between the two countries, Hamparian stated, “The Obama Administration, by hiding behind the Turkey-Armenia Protocols in order to avoid angering Ankara by honestly condemning the Armenian Genocide, does a grave disservice to all past victims of genocide, and sends a dangerous message to all those who would, in the future, commit such crimes in the knowledge that with sufficient political leverage they can act with impunity and enforce a gag-rule upon the world’s condemnation of their actions.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer

Hamparian noted the ongoing ANCA efforts to work with Obama Administration to advance a broad range of Armenian concerns.  “We look forward, in the coming weeks and months, to working constructively with Secretary Kerry in support of a truthful and just policy on the Armenian Genocide, as well as efforts to ensure the right to self-determination of the people of Karabakh and a strong U.S.-Armenia relationship.”

Prior to the January 24th confirmation hearing, ANCA activists contacted Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee urging a them to seek clarity from Senator Kerry on a number of community issues.

Senator Kerry was approved by a vote of 94 to 3 to serve Secretary of State.  He will begin serving in that capacity starting on Friday, February 1st.

Below are the complete written questions regarding Armenian American concerns submitted by Senators Menendez and Boxer, followed by Senator Kerry’s responses.

Questions for the Record Submitted to
Secretary-Designate John Kerry by
Senator Robert Menendez
Committee on Foreign Relations
January 24, 2013

Question:

The U.S. State Department chronicled the effort to exterminate Armenians in the early 1900s — The Honorable Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 1913-16 wrote in July 16, 1915, telegram to the Secretary of State, “Deportation of and excesses against peaceful Armenians is increasing and from harrowing reports of eye witnesses it appears that a campaign of race extermination is in progress under a pretext of reprisal against rebellion.” The U.S. Consul in Aleppo, Jesse Jackson, reported to Ambassador Morgenthau on June 5, 1915, “It is without doubt a carefully planned scheme to thoroughly extinguish the Armenian race.” The U.S. Consul in Harput, Leslie Davis reported to Ambassador Morgenthau on July 24, 1915, “It has been no secret that the plan was to destroy the Armenian race as a race, but the methods used have been more cold-blooded and barbarous, if not more effective, than I had at first supposed.” Ambassador Morgenthau was succeeded by the Honorable Abram I. Elkus, who served as Ambassador from 1916-17. On October 17, 1916, Elkus telegrammed the Secretary of State about the extreme measures sanctioned by the Turks, stating “In order to avoid opprobrium of the civilized world, which the continuation of massacres [of the Armenians] would arouse, Turkish officials have now adopted and are executing the unchecked policy of extermination through starvation, exhaustion, and brutality of treatment hardly surpassed even in Turkish history.” How does the Department refer to the events that occurred during this time period?

Answer:
The U.S. government clearly acknowledges and mourns as historical fact that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.   These events resulted in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century, and the United States recognizes that they remain a great source of pain for the people of Armenia and of Armenian descent as they do for all of us who share basic universal values.  The President honors the victims every April 24th on Remembrance Day, so that we never forget this dark chapter in history.

Question:
The State Department has concluded, wrongly I think, to not recognize the Armenian genocide despite a replete historical record. I think it is a grave mistake to not recognize atrocities, historical facts for political reasons however compelling – I think it sends the wrong message to perpetrators and obfuscates the “never again” policy. As a member of the Senate you supported legislation recognizing the Armenian genocide and the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians who were brutally massacred or marched to their deaths in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire.

Will you share your views and record on this matter with members of the Department and the Administration?

Answer:

If confirmed as Secretary of State, my duty would be to represent the policies of the President and Administration faithfully.  As the President has emphasized in his April 24th Remembrance Day statements, the achievement of a full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts of what occurred in 1915 is in all our interests.  He also has said that the best way to advance that goal is for the Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as a part of their efforts to move forward.  The United States is encouraging Turkey at the highest levels to engage productively with Armenia on the normalization protocols, to open the border, to reinstitute transportation, communication, and utility links between the two countries, and to re-establish diplomatic relations.  If confirmed, I will continue to strongly support all efforts to normalize bilateral relations between Armenia and Turkey so that together, they can forge a relationship that is peaceful, productive, and prosperous.

Question:
As a matter of policy, the United States has been a strong proponent for the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey, and as such actively supported the Protocols between Armenia and Turkey, which were signed in October of 2009. The Protocols between Armenia and Turkey provided a road map to normalization of relations. However, despite its public commitments, Turkey not only failed to ratify them, but also sought to add conditions not in the Protocols, such as resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. This coupled with Azerbaijan’s counterproductive actions effectively derailed the process. Instead of lifting its blockade, Turkey, in coordination with Azerbaijan, continues to maintain its nearly 20-year long blockade against Armenia. Secretary Clinton has praised Armenia for its approach vis-à-vis normalization and has repeatedly stated that the ball is now in Turkey’s court. Lifting of the blockade is not only the right thing to do; it is also long overdue.  Please outline the steps you will take to end Turkey’s blockade of Armenia and ensure that Turkey lives up to its international commitments with respect to the Armenia-Turkey Protocols.

Answer:
The United States believes that full normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia is important not only for the future of both countries, but for long-term stability and security in the Caucasus.   Normalization between Turkey and Armenia remains a prominent feature of our dialogue with both countries.  Secretary Clinton and other senior officials consistently raise the protocols with Turkish leaders at the highest levels, and if confirmed as Secretary, I will ensure that the State Department continues to do so.

Questions for the Record Submitted to
Secretary-Designate John Kerry by
Senator Barbara Boxer
Committee on Foreign Relations

Question:
If confirmed, what steps can the U.S. take to put pressure on President Aliyev to reconsider his decision and return Mr. Safarov to jail?

Answer:

Immediately after learning of Azerbaijani President Aliyev’s pardon of Ramil Safarov, the United States raised its concerns directly with the highest levels of the government of Azerbaijan.  In addition, both the White House and the State Department released strong statements of concern over Mr. Safarov’s transfer and subsequent pardon.  Mr. Safarov was tried and convicted of a brutal murder, and the United States was extremely troubled to learn that he would not serve the remainder of his sentence.

As a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States continues working to help the sides reach a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and the United States condemns any action that fuels tension in the region or threatens to damage the peace process.  If confirmed, I will continue to raise the concerns expressed by the United States previously and do everything I can to help the parties resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict peacefully.

Question:

Azerbaijan has threatened to shoot down aircraft that fly into the newly rebuilt airport in Nagorno-Karabakh.

How will you respond, publicly and privately, to this threat and to any other new acts of aggression from Azerbaijan?

Answer:
The United States believes that the parties to this dispute must resolve this dangerous situation diplomatically; the Administration has firmly opposed any steps by any party that increase tensions in the region or threaten to damage the peace process in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, along with Russia and France, the United States responded swiftly when such threats first appeared, and the Administration has continued to raise the issue bilaterally and through the Minsk Group Co-Chairs.  If confirmed as Secretary of State, I will continue working to support the peace process and to oppose actions that could increase tensions in the region or damage the peace process.

Question:
If confirmed, will you or a member of your staff commit to meet with the Armenian American community and religious leaders from a broad cross-section of the community?

Answer:
Department officials maintain an ongoing dialogue regarding our foreign policy with a broad cross-section of the American people, including members of the Armenian-American community and leaders in the religious community.  This mutual exchange of information and ideas is an important element in the work of the State Department, and if confirmed as Secretary, I will ensure that it continues.

Question:
If confirmed, will you be an advocate within the Obama Administration for recognition of the Armenian genocide?

Answer:

If confirmed as Secretary of State, my duty would be to represent the policies of the President and Administration faithfully.  As the President has emphasized in his April 24 Remembrance Day statements, the achievement of a full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts of what occurred in 1915 is in all our interests.  He also has said that the best way to advance that goal is for the Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as a part of their efforts to move forward.  The United States is encouraging Turkey at the highest levels to engage productively with Armenia on the normalization protocols, to open the border, to reinstitute transportation, communication, and utility links between the two countries, and to re-establish diplomatic relations.  If confirmed, I will continue to strongly support all efforts to normalize bilateral relations between Armenia and Turkey so that together, they can forge a relationship that is peaceful, productive, and prosperous.

19 Responses

for “Menendez, Boxer Ask Kerry Questions On Armenian-American Concerns”

  1. Curiosity says:

    Basically, he did not answer any of the questions.

  2. armenian says:

    so basically, no, no, and no. Let’s face the facts: no matter who was supportive of us before, certain forces in the State Department are simply too afraid of Turkey. Whoever enters the State Department ends up reversing their position completely, and I highly doubt that the Secretary of State would have much of a personal say in any of these things otherwise it’s his job on the line.

  3. ARA says:

    They are ALL CROOKS

  4. Mihran says:

    The usual horse manure from the State Department.

  5. Kevork says:

    Thanks Mr Kerry for insulting the memory of our ancestors and 10 million Armenians worldwide. You are just another bulls**t artist who sugar coats his bulls**t and vomits it out in public shamelessly. You and many like you in government are not Americans in my view, you are all a bunch of foreign agents working for foreign interests.

  6. Minas says:

    In other words….No I wont formally recognize the Genocide because of my own selfish goals….Your already a multimillionaire and an extremely successful politician, at what point will you stand up and do the right thing?….This just proves that until we, the Armenian people, create a viable Armenia in the caucuses no one will take us seriously….Once we’re able to establish the Armenia of our dreams, then, and only then will the international community recognize the Genocide…until then we can continue begging….but look at what all our lobbying efforts have done….a few questions from Mr. Menendez and evasive answers by nearly every president and secretary of state.

  7. bigmoustache says:

    wow, spoken like a true politician. no opinion, non-committing, he wont even say that azerbaijan is the aggressor. at least we know that he knows whos at fault but dont get your hopes up or expect anything. as armenians, if our history has taught us anything its that we cant trust foreign powers.

  8. ohannes says:

    Mr Secretary state John Kerry welcome as a new member of amigos and musketeers join the
    club and list of stepping the Armenians from the face and the back like
    senator Obama now President of U.S.A
    senator Biden now vice President
    congresswomen Nancy Pelosi
    senator Clinton good-by Secretary of state
    go-head make Armenians day

  9. Krikor says:

    The usual song and dance….The circus continues to play…The clowns change but their act is still the same!

  10. M.S.K. says:

    Sen.John Kerry was one of the Senators who use to said the USA has to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Did President Obama changed his newly elected Secretary of State’s mind or my interpretation is incorrect?

  11. Alex says:

    It is true that our country (USA) has difficulties in recognizing the Armenian Genocide because Turkey is a close ally (and is still needed). On the other hand how dare we recognize the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million Armenians? The Genocide seems to be a monopoly of Israel, who cares about the small, proud and peaceful Christian nation called Armenia? Same applies to Azerbaijan; take away their oil and they would be getting a different treatment from all over the world. For God’s sake these monsters went as far as desecrating the Christian cemeteries, and who gave a damn?

  12. James Ajemian, Ph.D. says:

    In order for legitimate relations to occur between Turkey and Armenia the government of Turkey must acknowledge fully and forthrightly the genocide it perpetrated upon the Armenian people in 1915, leaving 1,500,000 Armenians dead, its intent being to wipe out the entire Armenian population. If Turkey refuses to acknowledge its genocide against the Armenians, how will it be possible for Armenians to engage in relations with Turkey as if the genocide of 1915 never happened?

  13. An Armenian says:

    This is the State department’s same old song and dance. They will never change. Obviously, Obama does not have the balls to stand up for what he promised as a candidate before his first term in office.

  14. George says:

    ….. The United States is encouraging Turkey at the highest levels to engage productively with Armenia on the normalization protocols, to open the border…….. and……… to move forward……, In Turkey Attacks on Armenians continues, the Genocide never ceased, how can Mr. Kerry and Mr. Obama expect from almost 8 million diaspora Armenians to trust their deeds and to move foraward if for OIL and $$$$$$$$$$ universal values are bought and sold, a simple question of NO brainer, from where did 8 million Armenians come from and spread to all over the world, for sure they did not leave their land for tourism nor to find jobs abroad, they are the descendents of the 20th Century’s 1st. GENOCIDE, GENOCIDE., GENOOCIDE.

  15. Rifat says:

    Menendez needs to be questioned about how he hired a registered sex offender as an intern, as well as having sex with underage hookers in the Dominican Republic.

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  17. Arthur I says:

    How naive are the Armenian people. Kerry of all politicians, is the biggest flip flopper. Of course he will not utter the G word, now that he is the SOS.

  18. Satenik says:

    Same old same old……

  19. Harout Froundjian says:

    With all the previous comments being absolutely righteous, and unrefutable, and with all my respects to all comments and respondents, it is nevertheless important for us to play the same game of diplomacy and refrain from denigrating, insulting and alienating anybody, especially people at the top of the power pyramid. Given the context of the interrogations, any “wrong” answers by Kerry would have cost him his nomination, taking down with it any real or illusionary (justified or unjustified) hopes that we had trusted in his person. And what good would have a failed John Kerry brought us, even if he was 100% with us armenians. The lesson of self reliance of which “we have come to realise” the importance, is supposed to have been learnt decades ago. Our lobbying based solely on moral values and begging for justice bears no weight against the practice of buying out people and policies. So, until we reach there, we have to work silently and in unity, strengthening our individual and collective financial power, to impose one day our own will, with the same rules of the game as everybody else is playing. And Until then, please, think long term, and make friends and not ennemies. (remember all these “friends” are friends of the wealthy and the powerful).

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