Armenian Parliament Leader Urges US Counterpart to Pass Genocide Bill

YEREVAN–In a letter to the chairman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Howard Berman, the Chairman of the Armenian National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Armen Rustamian on Thursday expressed his strong support for US affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, stressing that US recognition would be the greatest contributor to the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations.

“I have the pleasure to write you upon the introduction of legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide, and to share with you and your colleagues our complete support for the adoption of this measure affirming the commitment of the United States to the cause of genocide-prevention,” Rustamian’s letter said.

US legislators introduced on March 17 a resolution (H.Res.252) calling on the U.S. president to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide. The resolution, submitted by representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), George Radanovich (R-Calif.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), came five weeks ahead of April 24, when President Obama is expected to issue an annual statement commemorating the Genocide.

Turkey has repeatedly tried to dissuade US lawmakers from reaffirming the official US record on the Genocide, arguing that the recognition is one sought only by the Armenian-American community and not the Armenian state, which is currently working toward normalizing relations with Turkey.

“The Armenian people in our homeland, in the United States and around the world, remain grateful for the hard work that you and your colleagues, including, of course, Congressmen Adam Schiff and George Radanovich, have devoted over the course of many years to secure US recognition and official commemoration of this crime,” said Rustamian in his letter.

Turkey’s leaders also warn that any official recognition of its crime against the Armenian people, whether in a resolution or in an April 24 statement, will torpedo current negotiations to normalize relations between the two countries.

But the lack of an official recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States has actually served to make Turkey’s position in normalization talks more uncompromising, according to Rustamian.

“I am confident that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States not only would not hamper, but on the contrary will contribute to the prospects of a thorough dialogue between Turkey and Armenia,” the letter read. “A clear and principled stance by the US can only assist in developing awareness that the recognition of the Genocide is not at all a demonstration of anti-Turkish sentimen’s, but a necessity emanating from the need to condemn this crime against humanity.”

“Any durable improvement of Armenia-Turkey relations must rest upon a foundation of shared respect for truth and justice,” he said, noting also that the recognition would bring historical justice, improve the overall situation in the region, and prevent similar crimes in the future.

Rustamian further noted that “a clear and principled stance by the US can only assist in developing awareness that the recognition of the Genocide is not at all a demonstration of anti-Turkish sentimen’s, but a necessity emanating from the need to condemn this crime against humanity.”

Click here to read the letter


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