Kerry’s Choice for Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee

WASHINGTON–DC–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today welcomed the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s announcement of Senator John Edwards (D-NC) as his Vice-Presidential running mate.

"The ANCA welcomes John Kerry’s choice of John Edwards–a friend of Armenian-Americans in North Carolina and around the nation–as his running-mate," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "The contrast between Senator Edwards and sitting Vice President Dick Cheney could not be more stark. John Edwards has consistently taken a stand for Armenian issues–while Dick Cheney–as Chairman of Halliburton and later as Vice President–has consistently–often stridently–opposed issues of concern to Armenian American voters."

Sen. Edwards–currently finishing his first term in the Senate–has been a staunch supporter of Armenian-American concerns. In 2002–he cosponsored S.Res.307–marking the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the Genocide Convention. He was an original cosponsor of a similar bill currently in Congress–S.Res.164–spearheaded by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ)–which currently has 39 cosponsors.

During his run for the Democratic presidential nomination–Sen. Edwards met with ANCA activists in May of 2003–at a private reception held in Los Angeles in his honor. There–ANCA-WR chairman Raffi Hamparian and board member Steven J. Dadaian discussed issues of concern to the Armenian-American community with Edwards. Hamparian spoke to the Senator about Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia–to which Edwards responded that the "wrongful blockade" must end–stressing that America has to stand behind Armenia and let its neighbors know that "We [America] stand fully behind Armenia." In a statement before reception attendees–Edwards explained that it is in America’s interest to recognize the Armenian Genocide and added that "It is the just thing to do. It is about time we [Americans] recognized it."

Sen. Edwards’ positions on Armenian-American concerns contrasts sharply to Republican vice-presidential nominee Dick Cheney’s record. During his years serving in the US Congress–Cheney voted against resolutions commemorating the Armenian Genocide both in 1985 and 1987. In 1995–he joined the Halliburton Company–an oil and energy services corporation–and after his appointment as chairman of the board in 1996–worked extensively with the government of Azerbaijan in oil exploration ventures. He was a vocal advocate of efforts to repeal restrictions on US aid to Azerbaijan despite that country’s ongoing blockades of Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh. In a keynote speech at a US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) conference on February 18–1997–Cheney stated: "I must also say that I believe that our current policy prohibiting US assistance to Azerbaijan is seriously misguided. In my experience–this kind of unilateral sanction–based primarily on US domestic political considerations–is unwise. Such a policy limits US influence in any given situation–and in this case–it reduces rather than enhances the prospects for ultimately resolving a very complex and important set of regional issues."

In 1997–Cheney–who was a member of the USACC "Honorary Council of Advisors," was awarded its "Freedom Support" award–for his "outstanding services to this organization [USACC] as well as contribution toward promoting peace–democracy–freedom and economic development in Azerbaijan and a closer cooperation between the United States and Azerbaijan."

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