Radanovich Leads Albright Questioning on Armenian Issues

*Joins Reps. Sherman and Gejdensen in asking about US recognition of the Armenian Genocide; aid levels to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

WASHINGTON–Speaking Wednesday before a Congressional panel–Secretary of State Madeleine Albright fielded a number of questions on Armenian American issues–including one – raised by Fresno Republican George Radanovich – about how the Clinton Administration’s failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide undermines the credibility and effectiveness of US efforts to protect human rights and prevent genocides elsewhere in the world–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

In prefacing his question on the Armenian Genocide–Congressman Radanovich referred to the controversy surrounding the inclusion of an anti-immigrant and ethnically intolerant right-wing party in Austria’s new coalition government. He asked the Secretary to respond to his concern that the Administration’s lack of willingness to recognize the extermination of 1.5 million Armenia’s in the Genocide of 1915 undermines the impact of the protests she has raised with the Austrian government and limits the effectiveness of the US government’s policies to prevent genocide.

In what has become an annual ritual of dodging questions on the Armenian Genocide–the Secretary responded to Congressman Radanovich by saying that President Clinton has issued April 24 statemen’s that "commemorate the loss of innocent Armenian lives and challenge Americans to recommit themselves to make sure that this does not happen again." She said that the President would again issue such a statement on April 24 of this year. Secretary Albright also noted that while in Istanbul recently at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit she reminded both Turkish and Armenian leaders that they can "neither deny history nor forget it."

"We thank Congressmen Radanovich and Sherman and our other friends on the Committee for raising issues of concern to our community–ranging from US commemoration of the Armenian Genocide to aid levels for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Sadly–the Secretary of State’s refusal to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide–once again illustrates the State Department’s shameful policy of complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide."

Representative Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) expressed to the Secretary his alarm at the Administration’s proposal to cut aid to Armenia by 27 percent–while increasing assistance to Azerbaijan by 77 percent He added–however–that he was confident that the Congress would reverse these percentages. Congressman Sherman also raised concerns about the slow pace of implementation of the Congressionally-mandated

Nagorno-Karabakh aid program–pressing her to ensure that these appropriations are translated into action in an expeditious manner. In connection with proposed increase in aid to Azerbaijan–he asked how the Secretary could justify proposing such a large appropriation for a nation which–according to the State Department’s own estimates–is among the most wealthy in the world in terms of its energy resources.

Ranking Democrat on the Committee–Sam Gejdensen (D-Conn.)–asked a general question concerning the status of the Nagorno Karabakh peace process. Secretary Albright responded by noting that Azeri President Aliyev met yesterday with President Clinton and herself at the White House–where they held discussed the Karabakh conflict and other regional issues. She added that she looks to the OSCE to produce additional movement toward a negotiated settlement.

Meanwhile–Congressman James E. Rogan (R-Calif.) Wednesday called into question the Clinton Administration’s FY 2001 budget request. Rogan expressed concern over the administration’s proposal to slash by 27 percent assistance to the Republic of Armenia. "To be a friend of Armenia is to be a friend of liberty," Rogan said. "I am disturbed that the Clinton Administration would propose to cut by more than one-forth the assistance budget for this emerging beacon of freedom in the Caucasus region. I am confident however–that my colleagues in Congress who support Armenia will join me and fight to reverse this."

"I am concerned that the White House would propose increasing funds for a nation that currently blockades the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Clinton Administration proposes to reward this illegal blockade . This is wrong–and I am certain that we can build a bipartisan coalition in the House to correct this proposal," Rogan added.

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