ANCA Welcomes Second Hold By Sen. Menendez On Hoagland Nomination

WASHINGTON–The Armenian National Committee of America Thursday welcomed a second "hold" placed by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on the controversial confirmation of Richard E. Hoagland as US Ambassador to Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. The New Jersey legislator’s decision comes just two days after the Bush Administration re-nominated Hoagland, a diplomat whose denial of the Armenian Genocide generated widespread Congressional opposition and Armenian American community outrage culminating in his first Senatorial "hold" in the recently concluded 109th Congress. "We join with Armenia’s from New Jersey and throughout the United States in thanking Senator Menendez, yet again, for his steadfast and principled stand in blocking the Hoagland nomination," said Ken Hachikian, Chairman of the ANCA. In a statement released earlier Thursday, Senator Menendez explained that, "given the circumstances and controversy surrounding Mr. Hoagland’s nomination, I believe that the best way to move forward would be for the president to nominate a new candidate for this ambassadorship." Sen. Menendez denounced the policy of US complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, stating, "I also believe that the State Department and the Bush administration are just flat-out wrong in their refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide. It is well past time for American diplomacy to drop the euphemisms, the wink-wink, nod-nod brand of foreign policy that overlooks heinous atrocities committed around the world."If there is any sincerity behind the Bush administration’s rhetoric about ‘liberty on the march’–if ‘never again’ is to be more than a bumper sticker slogan–then American diplomacy should consist of nothing less than unvarnished honesty with our friends and enemies alike. And we must call genocide by its name," noted Sen. Menendez. The Hoagland nomination faced bipartisan opposition in the 109th Congress–and was ultimately blocked by a parliamentary "hold" placed by Senator Menendez–after, in written statemen’s offered in response to questions posed to him during his confirmation hearing, the nominee 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. Ninety-four 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 announcing his "hold" last September, the Sen. Menendez cited the principled stand taken by former US 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 US-Armenia relationship to expect Ambassador-designate Hoagland to carry out his duties under these highly contentious and profoundly troubling circumstances." On December 8th of last year, 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 US 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.

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