Chairman Levin Questions Hagel On U.S.-Armenia Defense Relations

Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levon questions Hagel

Secretary of Defense Nominee Hagel Calls for Growth in Bilateral Defense Ties

WASHINGTON—In response to a direct inquiry by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), President Obama’s nominee to serve as Secretary of Defense, former Senator Chuck Hagel, called for the expansion of U.S.-Armenia defense relations, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel during confirmation hearing

“We would like to thank Chairman Levin for drawing attention, during this especially closely watched Senate confirmation process, to the importance of growth in the U.S.-Armenia defense relationship,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.  “We share Senator Hagel’s view that there is much room for the development of these ties, and look forward, should he be confirmed, to engaging with the Department of Defense on this matter.”

In response to a written inquiry by Chairman Levin, Senator Hagel explained “The U.S.-Armenia defense relationship is sound. As with all relationships, there is room to grow and areas where we can strengthen our cooperation and partnership.”  He went on to note that, if confirmed, “I would continue to engage Armenian leaders to strengthen existing areas of engagement and identify new areas of cooperation that support Armenia’s defense reforms, especially its peacekeeping brigade, and continue its ability to deploy in coalition operations.”

In the days leading up to the Hagel confirmation hearing, ANCA activists across America, including those in Chairman Levin’s state of Michigan, urged their legislators to engage the nominee on a range of issues of concern to the Armenian American community.  Of special concern were statements by Hagel opposing official U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. “What happened in 1915 happened in 1915. As one United States Senator, I think the better way to deal with this is to leave it open to historians and others to decide what happened and why,” then-Senator Hagel told a group of Armenian reporters during a trip to Armenia in 2005.  “The fact is that this region needs to move forward,” Hagel added. “We need to find a lasting, just peace between Turkey and Armenia and the other nations of this region. I am not sure that by going back and dealing with that in some way that causes one side or the other to be put in difficult spot, helps move the peace process forward.”

Hamparian told Commentary magazine in December, that the ANCA objected to the argument that official U.S. recognition of the genocide would hinder peace between Turkey and Armenia. “As much as Erdogan and his allies might like, the ‘lasting, just peace between Turkey and Armenia’ that Chuck Hagel seeks cannot be built on Genocide denial. The U.S. and the international community must set an example by condemning the Armenian Genocide — and speaking out against all genocides, wherever and whenever they occur,” said Hamparian.

Chairman Hagel announced today his intention to bring Hagel’s nomination for a committee vote on Tuesday, February 12th, opening the door for a full Senate vote later this week.

Chairman Levin’s question and Hagel’s complete response are both provided below.

Chairman Carl Levin: Mr. Hagel, what is your assessment of the U.S.-Armenia defense relationship, and what steps, if any, would you take to strengthen that relationship?

Former Senator Hagel: “The U.S.-Armenia defense relationship is sound.  As with all relationships, there is room to grow and areas where we can strengthen our cooperation and partnership.  That growth will be based on shared interests and willingness to cooperate, available resources, and capacity to absorb new capabilities and missions.”

“If confirmed, I would continue to engage Armenian leaders to strengthen existing areas of engagement and identify new areas of cooperation that support Armenia’s defense reforms, especially its peacekeeping brigade, and continue its ability to deploy in coalition operations.  I would look for the United States to be Armenia’s partner of choice and help Armenia’s defense establishment contribute to regional security and stability.”

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18 Comments

  1. danoog said:

    Ara is correct. I’m a loyal American but the US has dropped the ball in dealing with Armenia and Turkey dating back to 1915 and the Woodrow Wilson era. I wish Armenia and the US had closer ties but the US has never been there for Armenia. Russia, for the most part, has.

  2. Arn.Sweden. said:

    The US will stand by Turkey and the Turks.

    Armenias relation with Turkey will be the same as Armenias relation with Nato and the US..

    The signatyre ARA above has a point.

    Arn.Sweden.

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  4. Hrant K. said:

    250 F16’s and pilots’ training is what US has to provide Armenia for a good Defense Relations with Armenia!!!
    Anything less than that, is a waste of time and a clearcut partiality towards turkey and azerbaijan!!!

  5. john goncuian said:

    ARMENIA MUST ONLY RELY ON RUSSIA !! THE US AND THE NATO WILL CHOOSE TURKEY FOR THEIR POLITICAL AND MILITARY AGENDA. THE US INSTALLED PATRIOT DEFENSE MISSILES IN TURKEY,POLAND, ROMANIA IN GERMANY ETC. IT IS A FIRST STRIKE WEAPON TO SURROUND RUSSIA . THEIR BULSHIT EXCUSE IS TO DEFEND FROM NORTH KOREA OR IRAN MISSILE ATTACK.

  6. facts said:

    I would say despite his stands on Armenian Genocide Senator Hagel as US DM would be most probably still a win for Armenia and Armenian American community. Hagel is against a war with Iran and any war against Iran or destabilization could cause a big harm to Armenia (This is the scenario which Ankara and Baku waiting for) !

  7. An Armenian said:

    I agree that the US State dept. and government along with NATO And the EU have always sided and will continue to side with Turkey. However, don’t forget that Russia is the one that partitioned Armenian lands and distributed them to Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia in order to appease them. The same Russia assisted and stood by as Azeris slaughtered Armenians in Baku and other cities. Armenia should rely on herself and not trust anybody else. We need a patriotic leader to turn Armenia into a democratic, free, independent country.

  8. George said:

    Armenian’s can’t trust countries who deny the Armenian Genocide, the base that shows the moral values of those countries.

  9. hi said:

    usa will never ever be on armenian side…..no need to explain the reasons.without armenia there would be no russia but may be small place called moscow.

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  11. Avtis said:

    Ignorant peasants that say our landlocked, tiny, resources and impoverished nation blockaded by enemies in the volatile Caucasus should “rely on no one expect itself” don’t realize that if Armenia somehow managed to do just that it would – by default – have to “rely” on its regional enemies for survival. One must search the remotest corners of the Arabian desert or the darkest depths of the African jungle to find a tribe as self-destructive and as politically illiterate as Armenians….

  12. Harutik said:

    Who are these well-spoken reptiles in suits kidding? As soon as this Levin character is given real political power in Washington, his tune will also change! People like Levin, Pallone, ect are around to manage the empire’s Armenian sheeple. Never trust reptiles in Washington regardless of which side of the political fence they are on – simply because in the world of geostrategy, the West has been, currently is and will most probably always be Armenia’s enemy…

  13. Anon said:

    I really don’t understand Armenians who have a fetish with Russia… like seriously? Russia basically monopolized most of Armenia’s valuable resources, sold weapons and mercenary service to Azerbaijan, and continues to play countries in the region against each other. I’m not saying Russia doesn’t do some nice things for Armenia, but realistically Armenia has no true ally and it would be foolhardy to assume Russia is just out to “help.” Russia would be willing to dump Armenia at whatever opportunity presented itself. What Armenians should do is encourage governmental reform in Armenia to decrease corruption. That would boost foreign investment and increase the amount of stakeholders in Armenia’s future.

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