Bush Resubmits Hoagland Nomination; ANCA Voices Strong Opposition

WASHINGTON–President George W. Bush on Tuesday re-nominated as ambassador to Armenia a career diplomat whose confirmation was blocked by Senate Democrats in the last Congress. The Armenian National Committee of America Wednesday, voiced its opposition to President Bush’s re-nomination of Richard Hoagland–a controversial diplomat whose denial of the Armenian Genocide generated widespread Congressional and Armenian American community opposition culminating in a Senatorial "hold" of his previous nomination in the recently concluded 109th Congress. In a letter circulated Wednesday on Capitol Hill, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian called on U.S. Senators to prevent Hoagland’s approval stressing that, " A genocide denier must not–and should never–represent America in Armenia, a nation that rose from the ashes of genocide." The Hoagland nomination faced bipartisan opposition in the 109th Congress–and was ultimately blocked by a parliamentary "hold" placed by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) – after he disqualified himself as an acceptable choice by denying the Armenian Genocide. In written statemen’s, offered in response to questions posed to him during his confirmation hearing, he went far beyond the bounds of the Administration’s already deeply flawed policy, actually calling into question the Armenian Genocide as a historical fact. A recent poll of Armenian Americans found that 97 percent opposed the Hoagland nomination, while 94 percent of the respondents said that they "strongly agreed" with the Senate’s opposition to his nomination. An additional three percent noted that they "somewhat agreed" with this opposition. One percent reported that they "somewhat disagreed" with opposing Hoagland, and two percent indicated that they "strongly disagreed" with the opposition to his confirmation. In voting against his confirmation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) noted last September that, "I cannot imagine an Ambassador to Israel being effective without talking about the Holocaust. I am not sure how we can continue to have Ambassadors to Armenia who can be effective, unless they give recognition to the Genocide." In announcing his "hold" last September, the New Jersey legislator cited the principled stand taken by former U.S. Ambassador John Evans, who was fired for speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide, underscoring his "great concerns that Mr. Hoagland’s confirmation would be a step backward." Citing the opposition of the Armenian American community and the growing controversy within Congress surrounding the nomination, Senator Menendez was joined on December 1st by incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in calling on President George W. Bush to withdraw the Hoagland nomination and propose a new candidate to serve in this important diplomatic post. They stressed that, in light of the broad-based concerns within Congress, the extensive media coverage this issue has received, and the strong stand of the Armenian American community against the nomination, "it would serve neither our national interests nor the U.S.-Armenia relationship to expect Ambassador-designate Hoagland to carry out his duties under these highly contentious and profoundly troubling circumstances." On December 8, after the Senate failed to confirm Hoagland, his nomination was returned to the President upon the adjournment of the 109th Congress.With the expiration of the Hoagland nomination, the President was free to offer a new candidate for this diplomatic posting in the 110th Congress, but chose instead to submit the same one, despite strong Congressional opposition to his confirmation. More than half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and more than 60 U.S. Representatives have raised concerns about the Hoagland nomination and the State Department’s refusal to explain the controversial firing of his predecessor, John Marshall Evans, for speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide. The Department of State has also failed to offer any meaningful explanation of the role that the Turkish government played in the Evans issue. The complete text of ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian’s letter follows: January 10, 2007 Dear Senator: I am writing to encourage you to prevent the approval of Richard Hoagland, a deeply controversial candidate whom President Bush–over widespread opposition–has re-nominated to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia. As you know, the Hoagland nomination was blocked in the 109th Congress after he disqualified himself as an acceptable choice by denying the Armenian Genocide. His written statemen’s, offered in response to questions posed to him during his confirmation hearing, went far beyond the bounds of the Administration’s already deeply flawed policy, actually calling into question the Armenian Genocide as a historical fact. Ambassador-designate Hoagland has since not provided an unambiguous public statement affirming that he does not question the clear genocidal intent of the Ottoman Turkish government against its Armenian population. His statemen’s are all the more troubling in light of the White House’s continued refusal to explain why it fired the previous U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, or to reveal the role that Turkey played in his dismissal. It has been widely reported that Ambassador Evans was fired for speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide at a community event. The State Department has denied being pressured by Turkey to fire Ambassador Evans; yet, U.S. Department of Justice filings demonstrate Turkey’s foreign agent registering multiple complaints with State Department officials on this matter. In a letter sent to the Secretary of State in December, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Robert Menendez, who has placed a hold on this nomination, called on the Administration to offer a new candidate for this important post, noting the broad-based concerns within Congress, the extensive media coverage the nomination has received, and the strong stand of the Armenian American community against the nomination. They stressed that: "It would serve neither our national interests nor the U.S.-Armenia relationship to expect Ambassador-designate Hoagland to carry out his duties under these highly contentious and profoundly troubling circumstances." More than half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and over 60 U.S. Representatives have raised concerns about the Hoagland nomination and the controversial firing of his predecessor. In a recent poll, 97 percent of Armenian Americans supported Senate efforts to block the Hoagland nomination. Based on these considerations, I respectfully call on you to publicly oppose the Hoagland nomination and to use all the means at your disposal to prevent his confirmation. A genocide denier must not–and should never–represent the United States in Armenia, a nation that rose from the ashes of genocide. Thank you for your consideration of the concerns of the Armenian American community on this matter.We would, of course, be pleased to meet with you to discuss this matter in person, or to forward to you additional materials in support of our request. If you have any questions, please contact the Armenian National Committee of America at (202) 775-1918 or anca@anca.org. Sincerely yours, Kenneth V. Hachikian Chairman

Authors

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.

*

Top