Clinton Kennedy Pallone Among US Officials Condemning Attack On Armenian Parliament

"In the face of these unspeakable atrocities–the United States must reaffirm its commitment to supporting Armenia in her pursuit of a lasting democracy and enduring peace."

–Congressman Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) October 27–1999

WASHINGTON–Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)–Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)–Michael Capuano (D-Mass.)–George Radanovich (R-Calif.)–James Rogan (R-Calif.)–and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) joined with President Clinton in condemning the Wednesday’s assassination of Armenia’s Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and other senior government officials during an attack on the nation’s parliament building–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

President Clinton–in remarks echoed during the day by White House and State Department spokesmen–said that he was–"shocked and saddened by today’s armed attacks in the Armenian parliament." He condemned the "senseless act of violence against individuals actively engaged in building democracy in their country," and pledged to "renew [US] support for the Armenian people and their leaders–as they continue to build on the principles that today’s victims have so courageously embodied."

Senator Kennedy–in a letter to President Kocharian–extended his "deepest condolences…over today’s senseless killings in the Armenian Parliament," and joined with his "Armenian friends in the United States in reaffirming our firm commitment to your efforts to strengthen democracy in Armenia–and to enhance the close ties between our two countries."

Congressman Pallone–speaking on the House floor Wednesday–noted that "There are no indications that this was part of any kind of organized cOup–cut merely the action of a few gunmen whose motives are not yet entirely clear." He added that–"democracy in Armenia is strong. The commitment on the part of Armenia’s elected government leaders and the vast majority of Armenia’s people to democracy–to the orderly transfer of power–to peace and stability within Armenia and in the region–all remain as strong as ever."

Earlier today–Armenian President Robert Kocharian’s press secretary reported that "This is just a handful of terrorists or individual people who don’t have any affiliations with any political party or organizations–at least they don’t claim any… This is definitely not a coup d’etat."

Representative Patrick Kennedy described the assassinations as "a senseless act of violence," noting that the "very active Armenian community in Rhode Island must be devastated by this shooting." Rep. Kennedy had met at length with Prime Minister Sargsyan in Armenia this May.

"We are deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy and join with our friends in the Administration and Congress and with all Armenia’s in praying for the victims and their families," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "By all accounts–this appears to have been an isolated–personally motivated act of violence–which has shocked Armenia’s–in Armenia and around the world–but which will not deter the Armenian people from their progress in building democracy and fostering increased respect for the rule of law."

Armenia’s progress on democratic reforms was cited yesterday by the Council of Europe–which described this Sunday’s local elections as both free and fair. These elections are widely viewed as being Armenia’s last step before entering the Council and joining with the European family of democracies.

Fresno Republican George Radanovich emphasized in his remarks that "the democratic process must prevail for the people of Armenia to realize their full destiny. In condemn any attempt to stop democratic reform in Armenia by the use of violence. I am hopeful that Armenia will survive this national tragedy and come out of it a stronger and more stable nation."

Congressman James Rogan (R-Calif.)–who represents the largest community of Armenia’s in the United States–noted that he met with the Prime Minister while in Yerevan this summer and again during the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington this September. Rep. Rogan described Prime Minister Sargsyan as a "patriot who cared deeply about the cause of independence. He was committed to fighting for democracy in Armenia and in Nagorno Karabakh."

Congressman Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) stressed that "we must not permit these senseless acts to hinder the progress made by Prime Minister Sargsyan and his late colleagues in furthering democracy in Armenia. In the face of these unspeakable atrocities–the United States must reaffirm its commitment to supporting Armenia in her pursuit of a lasting democracy and enduring peace."

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