Gore in Statement Ignores Genocide Issue

*Statement to AADLC does not address Armenian Genocide; Recognizes "the need for Azerbaijan to carry out demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh."

FALLS CHURCH–Va.–In a statement to the Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council–presidential hopeful Al Gore outlined his views on issues of concern to Armenian American voters–announcing that he has asked the Secretary of State to lead a task force on economic development in Armenia–but failing to even address the growing questions surrounding his refusal to properly recognize and commemorate the Armenian Genocide.

The Vice President’s statement–issued on campaign letterhead–comes in response to AADLC inquiries to both his campaign and the campaign of former Senator Bill Bradley.

In a January 5 letter to both candidates–AADLC’s Executive Director asked each candidate to discuss their respective records and views on: US recognition of the Armenian Genocide; US aid policy to Armenia–Nagorno Karabakh–Azerbaijan and Turkey; Nagorno Karabakh’s right to self-determination–and; Armenian American participation in the public policy process.

The Vice President’s statement began by citing the "critical interest" of the US in the Caucasus. region He indicated that he would–as president–"support continued aid to Armenia," while saying that he hoped to be able to "increase assistance levels to both Azerbaijan and Armenia."

The Vice President made a special point of noting that he has called on Secretary of State Albright to "establish a task force on assistance and economic development in Armenia."

In expressing support for the Nagorno Karabakh peace process–he mentioned that he is "mindful of the need for Azerbaijan to carry out demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno- Karabakh."

An indirect reference to the Armenian Genocide appears in a passage in the Vice President’s statement describing the history of the region as being "steeped in tragedy–the scars of which cause pain to the present day. Our policy has been to work toward a moment when all of the peoples of the region can hope to surmount that history and to begin a fresh chapter based on stable peace and economic growth."

He did not respond to widespread concerns that–since being elected Vice President–he has consistently refused to use the term "genocide" to describe Turkey’s systematic and deliberate campaign to destroy its Armenian population.

"We thank both the Vice President and Senator Bradley for outlining their views on the issues we care about as Armenian American Democrats," said AADLC Policy Advisor Tamar Kazarian–who works as a Congressional aide on Capitol Hill.

"Based on these statemen’s and a review of their respective records on issues of concern to Armenian American Democrats–the AADLC will issue an endorsement–prior to the February 1st New Hampshire Democratic primary," she added.

Statement of Vice President Al Gore To the Armenian-American Democratic Leadership Council

Thank you for this opportunity to address the issues of concern to Armenian Americans.

The United States has a critical interest in the prosperity–stability and independence of the three countries of the Caucasus and adjacent regions. As President–I will pursue this goal by deepening our engagement in the region. At present the most important barrier to meeting this goal is the lack of a durable–mutually acceptable peace for Nagorno-Karabakh.

As President–I will support continued US assistance to Armenia focused on economic restructuring–exchanges and training–assistance in democracy and governance and closer security relations. The relationship between Armenia and the United States is important to both countries. The economic and political transition taking place can ensure that Armenia builds successfully on its western orientation and solidifies its status as a democratic–market-oriented country. This is beneficial to the US because it offers the prospect that Armenia will emerge as a western-oriented–democratic participant in world markets – a model for other NIS states. I have asked Secretary Albright to establish a task force on assistance and economic development in Armenia.

Of course–I am mindful of the need for Azerbaijan to carry out demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. We should help the parties reach the point when this is no longer an issue. They are making progress–and both are working hard to find a solution leading to a durable peace. As President–I would hope to be able to increase assistance levels both to Azerbaijan and Armenia. At present–we have only limited assistance for Azerbaijan aimed at democracy building–non-proliferation–and other US interests.

As a member of the Minsk Group–the US has been assisting in the effort to find a resolution acceptable to both parties in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. As President–I would not only continue to support the peaceful solution to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh–but I would also ensure that the United States is prepared to act as a partner–assisting in the further development of prosperity and stabilization that will come after a settlement is reached.

The history of this region is steeped in tragedy–the scars of which cause pain to the present day. Our policy has been to work toward a moment when all the peoples of the region can hope to surmount that history and to begin a fresh chapter based on stable peace and economic growth. As President–I will do my utmost to bring such a moment to pass. I fully understand the depths of feeling that must be overcome for this to happen–not to mention the extremely sensitive issues waiting for negotiated solution. As President–I will do everything in my power to help overcome these bitter legacies–and my Administration will stand by the people of the region in their efforts to move forward from a political settlement into genuine and lasting peace.

I look forward to working with the Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council in the cause of peace and prosperity in the world. I also look forward to working with you for a better America. With your help–we will build upon our prosperity and extend it ever more broadly. We will bring revolutionary improvemen’s to our public schools–expand health care coverage–protect and expand Medicaid and Medicare–and protect Social Security. Together–we will fight to bring a brighter future for America’s working families.

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