Berger Responds to ANCA Concerns Over His Remarks on Genocide

* National Security Council Advisor Sandy Berger’s letter to ANCA fails to properly identify Turkey’s systematic and deliberate massacres as genocide.

WASHINGTON–President Clinton’s National Security Advisor Samuel Berger replied to a letter from the Armenian National Committee of America calling on him to explain his statement to reporters that the Armenian Genocide should to be pushed aside for the sake of political expediency.

In Berger’s response–which failed to acknowledge the genocidal nature of Turkey’s campaign to eradicate its Armenian population–he wrote that–"While the significance of the Armenian massacres is profound and must not be forgotten or set aside–my only point to the reporters is that they cannot be the only reference point in our relations."

The ANCA–in its letter to Berger–had written that "Armenian-Americans have long been troubled by the Administration’s failure to appropriately commemorate the first genocide of this century.

The refusal of the US to stand on principle on this matter undermines our international standing as a nation committed to freedom and human dignity."

The texts of Berger’s response and the ANCA letter follow. December 9–1997 Dear Mr. Hamparian: Thank you for your letter regarding Turkish massacres of Armenia’s in the early twentieth century. Allow me first to emphasize the great importance the Administration attaches to the remembrance of genocide and human tragedy.

The United States government acknowledges the historic significance of the massacres and forced deportations of Armenia’s during the Ottoman Empire. Every year our Administration and the Congress have issued proclamations marking April 24 as a Day of Remembrance for the Armenian victims of one of the darkest chapters in the history of the twentieth century.

While the significance of the Armenian massacres is profound and must not be forgotten or set aside–my only point to the reporters is that they cannot be the only reference point in our relations with both countries. While acutely sensitive to human rights abuses–past and present–we are actively encouraging the improvement of the Turkish-Armenian relationship–which is essential for stability in the region and will advance the interests of both countries. These efforts will help ensure that there will never be a repetition of the tragedy experienced by the Armenian people at the beginning of this century. Sincerely, Samuel R. Burger Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

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