Reps. Pallone and Weiner Speak Out Against Hoagland Nomination

WASHINGTON–Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and New York Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) today sharply criticized the White House’s decision to resubmit the nomination of Richard Hoagland as US Ambassador to Armenia, in the face of bipartisan Congressional opposition and Armenian American outrage over his denial of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. Congressman Pallone’s remarks on the House floor and Congressman Weiner’s letter to President Bush come a day after Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) announced that he has, once again, placed a "hold" blocking the Hoagland nomination’s approval by the US Senate. Last year, concerns regarding the Hoagland nomination and the firing of former Ambassador John Evans over his public recognition of the Armenian Genocide were raised by more than half of the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and over sixty US Representatives. In a January 11 letter, Congressman Weiner wrote to the President that he was "deeply disappointed that you chose to re-nominate Richard Hoagland this week to serve as United States Ambassador to Armenia, despite the fact that 97 percent of Armenian Americans oppose the Hoagland nomination. His denial of the Armenian Genocide makes him unfit to represent American interests in Yerevan." The Empire State legislator, a leading advocate of Armenian American issues, added that, "your Administration has repeatedly failed to recognize the Genocide. Ambassador-designate Hoagland has taken a step back even from your regrettable policy by actively denying the Genocide. In a July 14, 2006 [response] to Senator Barbara Boxer, Mr. Hoagland indicated that the Armenian Genocide does not meet the State Department’s definition because the Ottoman Turks did not express a ‘specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, the group as such.’" Commenting on the Hoagland re-nomination coming on the heels of the controversial recall of the former Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, Congressman Weiner noted that this action "raises serious questions about this Administration’s support of the Armenian community. Ambassador Evans’ only offense was correctly referring to the Genocide as ‘the first genocide of the 20th Century.’ This is an admirable admission of the painfully obvious, not a firing offense. Replacing Ambassador Evans with a Genocide denier would do serious harm, especially after many Members of the House and Senate opposed Mr. Hoagland’s original nomination last August. It is due time that the Administration reverse its policy and recognize the Armenian Genocide." In a January 12 speech delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman Pallone voiced his opposition to the Hoagland nomination and expressed his thanks to his New Jersey colleague, Senator Bob Menendez, for blocking Hoagland’s approval by the Senate. The New Jersey Congressman noted his surprise that the President had resubmitted Hoagland as a candidate for this post, after the Senate blocked his initial nomination last year during the recently concluded 109th Congress. He noted that, "there is no way, in my opinion, that Mr. Hoagland is going to be confirmed because of his policy, and because of the fact that he continues to articulate a policy of denial… It would make no sense to send an Ambassador from this country to Armenia who cannot articulate the genocide. So I simply ask that this nomination be opposed again in the Senate and that the Bush Administration withdraw the nomination." In remarks addressed to his House colleagues and the C-SPAN audience, Congressman Pallone stressed that, "the Bush Administration continues to play word games by not calling evil by its proper name in this case. Instead they refer to the mass killings of 1.5 million Armenia’s as tragic events. That term should not be substituted for genocide. The two words are simply not synonymous. There are historical documen’s that show that the genocide cannot be refuted but somehow the Bush Administration continues to ignore the truth in fear of offending the Turkish government." He added that, "I don’t think that our nation’s response to genocide should be denigrated to a level acceptable to the Turkish government and it’s about time that this Administration started dictating a policy for Americans, not for a foreign government like Turkey. This lack of honesty, in my opinion, by the Bush Administration is simply not acceptable. The American people and this Congress deserve a full and truthful account of the role of the Turkish government in denying the Armenian genocide."

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