Obama Marks Armenian Independence Day

WASHINGTON–US Presidential candidate Barack Obama Sunday joined with Armenian Americans in celebrating Armenian Independence day in statement that noted Armenia’s first modern instance of independence in 1918 and congratulated all Armenia’s on Armenia’s rebirth in 1991 as an independent state after 70 years of Soviet rule, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Senator Obama has, at several points during the campaign season, shared his views on Armenian American issues, including in a statement this April dedicated to the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. In January of this year, in a statement on the eve of the California primary, he outlined his views on a broad array of Armenian American concerns.

The Illinois legislator, who was then facing Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for his party’s nomination, called for Congressional passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 & S.Res.106), and pledged that, as president, he will recognize the Armenian Genocide.

He also reaffirmed his support for a strong "U.S.-Armenian relationship that advances our common security and strengthens Armenian democracy," and promised to "promote Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination."

Read the full Text of Sen. Obama’s January Statement

In Wednesday’s statement, which again cites the Armenian Genocide, Senator Obama noted that "after centuries of living in the Persian, Russian, and Turkish empires, Armenia’s first achieved their modern independence in 1918 and regained it after 70 years of Soviet rule in 1991. Their struggle continues, but in the years of renewed independence they have been able to guide their own destiny through years of war and economic dislocation."

Senator Obama went on to mention the President of Turkey’s recent decision to accept the President of Armenia’s invitation to a World Cup qualifying match in Yerevan. The ANCA has outlined its views on this development in letters sent to the U.S. Congress.

Read the ANCA’s letters to Congress

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The full text of Senator Obama’s statement is provided below.

Statement by Senator Barack Obama on Armenian Independence Day Sunday, September 21, 2008

On this day, September 21, Armenia’s and friends of Armenia everywhere celebrate the independence of the Republic of Armenia, and I extend my warmest and best wishes on this happy occasion. Throughout their long history, a spirit of independence, self- reliance, and survival defines the Armenian people. After centuries of living in the Persian, Russian, and Turkish empires, Armenia’s first achieved their modern independence in 1918 and regained it after 70 years of Soviet rule in 1991. Their struggle continues, but in the years of renewed independence they have been able to guide their own destiny through years of war and economic dislocation. Even in the face of genocide, the pain of the past has not defeated the Armenia’s, either in Armenia or the far-flung diaspora.

America has benefited tremendously from the vigor and talents of the Armenian people. Armenian-Americans have made enormous contributions to American life ‘s to our arts and academia, to business, science, and politics ‘s while still maintaining strong ties to their ancestral home.

Recent events in the Caucasus region remind us of both the importance of rededicating ourselves to peace, and the possibility of progress even where there is a long history of alienation. The conflict in Georgia shows the danger that lurks when rising tensions are ignored and the United States pursues a diplomatic strategy of neglect. But in recent days we have also seen the hopeful step ‘s taken by the Presidents of Turkey and Armenia ‘s to restart dialogue that could, in time, bring a welcome normalization of relations and offer Armenia more diversified opportunities for trade, transport, and energy supplies. American policy must build on this step, to ensure that Armenia enjoys a future not merely of independence but of partnership and cooperation with the U.S. and its allies.

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