Senators Menendez And Reid Call for Withdrawal of Hoagland Nomination

WASHINGTON–Citing the opposition of the Armenian American community and the growing controversy within Congress surrounding the nomination of Dick Hoagland to serve as US Ambassador to Armenia, incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today called on President George W. Bush to withdraw this nomination and propose a new candidate to serve in this important diplomatic post, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). Senators Menendez and Reid, citing the growing Hoagland controversy, recommended, in a December 1, 2006 letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, that the best way to move this process forward would be for "the President to withdraw his nomination of Richard Hoagland as US Ambassador to Armenia and to propose a new candidate to serve in this important position." Noting the broad-based opposition within Congress, the extensive media coverage this issue has received, and the strong stand of the Armenian American community against this nomination, the two Senators noted that, "It would serve neither our national interests nor the US-Armenia relationship to expect Ambassador-designate Hoagland to carry out his duties under these highly contentious and profoundly troubling circumstances."Armenian Americans welcome the principled stand taken today by Senators Menendez and Reid in defense of our nation’s fundamental commitment to recognizing, preventing and punishing genocide," said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian. "We deeply appreciate their leadership and value their understanding of the simple truth that a denier of the Armenian Genocide cannot effectively promote US interests or American values in Armenia – a country that rose from the ashes of Turkey’s brutal campaign of extermination and exile." In letters sent on November 8, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian called on US Senators to urge the President to "withdraw the deeply flawed and increasingly controversial nomination of Dick Hoagland as US Ambassador to Armenia." Hachikian stressed that: "Very simply, a genocide denier cannot effectively promote US interests or American values in Armenia – a country that rose from the ashes of Turkey’s genocidal campaign." He added that, "confirming an Ambassador to Armenia who denies the Armenian Genocide would dramatically undermine US diplomacy in Armenia and mark a major retreat from our nation’s noble commitment to genocide prevention." Community activists across the country echoed this message in thousands of ANCA WebFaxes being sent to Senate offices from the ANCA website – www.anca.org. In announcing his decision to block the Hoagland nomination on September 12, 2006, Senator Menendez (D-NJ) highlighted the principled stand taken by former US Ambassador John Evans, who, by all accounts, was fired for speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide. The New Jersey legislator stated that he has "great concerns that Mr. Hoagland’s confirmation would be a step backward." The full text of the December 1, 2006 Senate letter is provided below. December 1, 2006 The Honorable Condoleezza Rice US Department of State Harry S. Truman Building 2201 C Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20520 Dear Secretary Rice: We are writing in regard to the nomination of Ambassador-designate Richard Hoagland to be the United States Ambassador to Armenia. As you know, this is a nomination that has faced significant problems during Senate confirmation hearings and as a result of the removal of Ambassador Evans. We appreciate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kurt Volker’s willingness to discuss this issue with Senator Menendez. In that discussion, he noted that Ambassador Evans had spoken against current administration policy when he specifically referred to the Armenian Genocide, and that he subsequently was disciplined and is no longer the US Ambassador to Armenia. During that conversation, Assistant Secretary Volker said that you would consider specific language that could help improve the dialogue on this topic. While we appreciate your willingness to discuss this language, the controversy surrounding both Ambassador Evan’s removal and Ambassador-designate Hoagland’s nomination remains. Given this controversy, we believe the best way to move this process forward is for the President to withdraw his nomination of Richard Hoagland as US Ambassador to Armenia and to propose a new candidate to serve in this important position. As you know, the circumstances related to the Hoagland nomination have been the subject of questions raised by more than half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and over sixty members of the US House of Representatives. The controversy surrounding his nomination has been widely-covered in the international press, and his nomination is opposed by the Armenian-American community and the Armenian Diaspora. It would serve neither our national interests nor the US-Armenia relationship to expect Ambassador-designate Hoagland to carry out his duties under these highly contentious and profoundly troubling circumstances. We can certainly appreciate that Ambassador-designate Hoagland was placed in a difficult position and want to assure you of our respect for his service to the State Department. Again, thank you for your willingness to discuss this important issue, and we look forward to your response to the concerns we have raised in this letter. Sincerely, [signed] Robert Menendez United States Senator [signed] Harry Reid Senate Minority Leader

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