ANCA Asks Beger to Explain Genocide Remarks

* National Security Advisor’s statement–downplaying Armenian Genocide–Tiananmen Square effects on US policy–cited by Stephanopoulos on ABC News

WASHINGTON–The Armenian National Committee of America has called upon National Security Advisor Sandy Berger to explain confirmed reports that he told reporters at a White House briefing last week that the Armenian Genocide and the Chinese government crackdown at Tiananmen Square should to be pushed aside for the sake of political expediency.

Speaking on ABC News "This Week" program Sunday–former Clinton Administration official George Stephanopoulos criticized the National Security Advisor for stating at a White House press briefing that the Armenian Genocide and Tiananmen Square should be down-played in terms of their significance to US foreign policy.

Stephanopoulos made his commen’s during a discussion of US policy toward China which began with Cokie Roberts of ABC News commenting that she had participated in a "White House briefing this week on the subject where human rights was the last thing mentioned…and then it was done with great defensiveness and a real embarrassment." At this point–George Stephanopoulos noted: "Well–that’s right–and Sandy Berger compared Tiananmen Square to the Turkish genocide of Armenia’s–saying we have to push them both aside."

The ANCA–in a letter Tuesday to Sandy Berger–voiced the Armenian-American community’s sharp sense of disappointment," at hearing of these accounts–and called upon the National Security Advisor to "offer the Armenian-American community a prompt and detailed explanation of [his] statement and a clarification of the Clinton Administration’s policy on the appropriate recognition and response to genocide." In the letter–ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian stressed that the Administration’s past failure to appropriately commemorate the Armenian Genocide "undermines our international standing as a nation committed to freedom and human dignity."

Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland also mentioned Berger’s commen’s at the same White House briefing–noting in his Sunday column that Berger had "revealed the mind-set of the White House by relegating Tiananmen to history: ‘We cannot forget Tiananmen–but we cannot be frozen in 1989,’ he responded–citing ‘the Turkish massacres in Armenia,’ and ‘lots of other horrible events’ of the past that ‘cannot be completely defining’ for current US policy."

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