Yovanovitch Responds to Obama Inquiries On Genocide Policy

WASHINGTON–Senator Barack Obama has received written responses to the four written questions he submitted to U.S. Ambassador Designate Marie Yovanovitch as part of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ongoing review of her nomination to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

"We remain troubled by Ambassador Yovanovitch’s evasive answers, her outright non-responses, and her refusal, in her replies to Senator Obama and other Senators, to offer anything approaching a reasonable or factually supportable explanation of the reasons behind Administration’s misguided policy on the Armenian Genocide," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. "This being said, it appears as though Ambassador Yovanovitch and her colleagues have learned from the disastrous Hoagland experience and are coming to understand that the U.S. Senate will not accept ‘s and the Armenian American community will never allow – an Ambassador to Armenia who denies the Armenian Genocide."

Ambassador Yovanovitch appeared as a witness before the Committee on June 19th. During this appearance, she faced a series of pointed questions from Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) regarding the Bush Administration’s policy to mischaracterize the Armenian Genocide. Afterwards, as many as eight Senators, including Senator Menendez, submitted a series of written inquiries to the nominee.

If confirmed, I will continue the tradition of participating in the official memorial event held in Yerevan every April. I will refer to this great historic catastrophe as the “Medz Yeghern,” the term often used within Armenia to refer to that dark chapter of history. If confirmed, I would make it a priority to promote understanding and reconciliation between the people and governmen’s of Armenia and Turkey. It is important for the US to do everything that it can to encourage dialogue between Armenia and Turkey, and to encourage Turkey in particular to examine the terrible events of that time openly. This was a tragedy that we and the world must never forget, so that it is never repeated,” said Yovanovitch in her response to Obama (Please see page 3 for complete text of the responses).

Concerned that Senators had not been given enough time to review Yovanovitch’s responses, with many submitted less than 24 hours before the impending Committee vote, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) called for a delay in Senate consideration, until Senators had a clearer picture of the nominee’s position. A Committee decision on this posting is expected in mid-July.

The ANCA has thanked Senator Boxer for providing Senators, the Armenian American community, and all citizens who care about ending genocide with the opportunity to meaningfully review the responses of a public servant nominated to fill a diplomatic posting that has been the center of national attention since the Administration’s firing of Ambassador John Evans over his truthful remarks on the Armenian Genocide.

"We compromise our standing as a nation when we require that our Foreign Service officers either lie or conceal the truth in the conduct of our foreign affairs. This exercise of euphemisms and evasion in relation to the Armenian Genocide, which everyone knows is the result of Turkish government pressure, undermines our credibility," added Hamparian. "Our diplomats should be sent abroad with a clear message: speak the truth and America will stand with you."

President Bush nominated Amb. Marie L. Yovanovitch in March of this year to serve as America’s next Ambassador to Armenia. The ANCA has spoken to Committee members about the value of carefully questioning Amb. Yovanovitch on the many issues she will face as the U.S. envoy in Yerevan, among them the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Turkey and Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockades of Armenia, and the need for a balanced U.S. role in helping forge a democratic and peaceful resolution to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.

President Bush’s previous nominee as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Richard Hoagland, was subject to two legislative holds by Sen. Menendez and was ultimately withdrawn by the Administration, following the nominee’s statemen’s denying the Armenian Genocide.

The ANCA led the Armenian American community campaign opposing Hoagland’s nomination, stating that a genocide denier could not serve as a credible and effective U.S. spokesperson in Armenia.

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