Senator Menendez Reaffirms Hold On Hoagland Nomination

WASHINGTON–Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) reaffirmed his "hold" on the controversial nomination of Richard Hoagland to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia in his remarks Tuesday at an Armenian Genocide observance organized by the Congressional Armenian Caucus in Capitol Hill’s historic Cannon Caucus Room, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. The Bush Administration has twice nominated Richard Hoagland to replace John Marshall Evans, a decorated career diplomat who was fired last year by the Secretary of State for speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide. From the outset, the Hoagland nomination has been the focus of intense controversy, first because of the State Department’s willingness to explain its firing of Evans, and later due to his denial of the Armenian Genocide in his responses to questions raised during his confirmation hearing. These remarks, which extended far beyond the euphemistic word games traditionally employed by the State Department, sparked outrage among Armenian Americans and widespread Congressional opposition to his posting in Yerevan. Looking to Ambassador Evans, who was seated in the first row of the standing room only hall, Senator Menendez said, "I wish the Ambassador was back in Armenia, but if we cannot get him there, I refuse to release my hold on Ambassador Hoagland because of his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee." The Senator added, to a sustained ovation, that, "the President [should] appoint a new nominee who will represent the interests of the United States and Armenia much better." In his remarks, Ambassador Evans, the program’s keynote speaker, called upon Congress to pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution. In a speech repeatedly interrupted by applause, he said, "If we dare not call the 1915 events genocide, we make it more likely that current genocides, such as that in Darfur, will continue and future genocides will occur… This is why, ladies and gentlemen, after 92 years, the time has come to call a spade a spade. House Resolution 106 on the affirmation of the United States record on the Armenian Genocide should be adopted by the Congress." The former envoy continued, stressing: "History does matter. Truth does matter. Justice does matter." The Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106 in the House and S.Res.106 in the Senate, calls on the President to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide and encourages the Administration to ensure that the lessons of this crime are used to help prevent future genocides. The resolution has over 190 cosponsors in the House and 30 cosponsors in the Senate. The April 24 observance was presided over by the Co-Chairmen of the Armenian Caucus, Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), and featured moving speeches by the lead authors of H.Res.106, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and George Radanovich (R-CA); original cosponsors Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), both of whom serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee; Senator Menendez; and Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Jim Costa (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Diane Watson (D-CA). Congressmen Jim McGovern (D-MA), David Dreier (R-CA) and Tim Walz (D-MN) also participated in the remembrance. Congressman Schiff, in his remarks, questioned the claims by opponents of H.Res.106 that Turkey is making progress toward recognizing the Armenian Genocide. "Was the murder of Hrant Dink progress? No it was not. Was the bringing of charges against a Nobel Prize-winning author progress? No it is not. Was the inception of Article 301, which makes it a crime to insult Turkishness progress? No it is not. The irony of our government’s position is that instead of pressing Turkey to repeal Article 301, our own State Department is trying to enforce 301 here in America, here in our Congress – and that cannot be." Representative Radanovich, expanding on this theme, said that, "I am sorry that the State Department and the Administration are slow to recognize the Armenian Genocide in the United States. And they argue that we need to deal with Turkey with kid gloves, and they need to come to this admission on their own. The fact is they are not going to come to this admission on their own – and they need prodding from the United States – and our recognition of the Genocide will get us to the point where every civilized country in the world should be." Holding up a copy of a New York Times April 23, 2007, full-page advertisement placed by Turkey denying the Armenian Genocide, Rep. Anna Eshoo, the only member of Congress of Armenian descent, stated, "My friends, we have work to do. They [the Turkish government] have money, they have sway in Washington, as you well know. I think the truth will help liberate the country of Turkey and the people of Turkey, when we pass this resolution." The ad, placed by the Embassy of Turkey, is valued at $130,000. Similar ads were placed in the Washington Times and L.A. Times.

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