Asking Tough Questions of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

US Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch will visit the Armenian communities of the United States this week, from June 19 to July 1. She has scheduled public events where she will make presentations and entertain questions from community members.

The community should not allow this unique opportunity to ask tough questions from the ambassador to pass, as we have been living through disappointment after disappointment, beginning with President Obama’s broken pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

This, coupled with the Obama administration’s proposed aid cut to Armenia and aid increase to Azerbaijan, the Millennium Challenge funding cut and last week’s revelation that the US supports the creation of a so-called historic commission to study the Genocide as a pre-condition to the “roadmap” process between Armenia and Turkey.

On the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict front, the administration’s continued insistence to advance the talks on the basis of the principle of territorial integrity and not prioritizing the important and principle of self-determination also is a step back for the normalization of the peace process.

What is most disturbing in the recent manifestation of US policy is the continued pressuring of Armenia by the State Department to accept the Genocide denialist approaches of Turkey as it sets the course for normalization of relations.

One wonders what sets apart the Obama administration’s policies vis-à-vis Armenia from that of his predecessor.

Yovanovitch’s visit is a great opportunity to press the administration to veer from its thus far cookie-cutter responses to failing to adhere to campaign pledges and other promises. It is time for the representative of the United States in Armenia to provide convincing and truthful answers to myriad questions, among them a concise explanation for the US policy of strong-arming the Armenian government to abandon its national policies.

The urgency with which the  US pursued the roadmap agreement and the rush by which it is attempting to frame the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are not beneficial scenarios for the Armenian people and potentially can endanger Armenia’s national security.

The Armenian-American community should send a clear message to the ambassador that we, as American citizens, are not only dissatisfied with the course of this administration has adopted, but are extremely disappointed as we believe that it hinders the US standing in a critical part of the world.

She will be speaking at a public forum at “Avedissian” Hall of the Ferrahian School (5300 White Oak Ave., Encino) on Friday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m. hosted by the Western Prelacy. We urge our community to come together that evening  and send a strong message to Ambassador Yovanovitch.

 

Community meetings will be held in the following venues and are open to the general public:

Fri., June 19 at 7 p.m.    
Armenian Cultural Foundation     
441 Mystic Street, Arlington, MA 02474

Mon., June 22 at 7 p.m.
Diocese of the Armenian Church
Haik and Alice Kavookjian Hall
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016

Thurs., June 25 at 7:30 p.m.     
Western Diocese of the Armenian Church    
3325 N. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank, CA 91504

Fri., June 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Avedissian Hall of the Ferrahian School
5300 White Oak Ave., Encino, CA 91316

Tues., June 30 at 12:30 p.m.
Library of Congress, Mumford Room
1st Street SE, Washington D.C. 20543

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7 Comments

  1. Hratch said:

    If the Ambassador does not plan on relaying a message of support on behalf of the US government for a JUSTICE COMMISSION between Turkey and Armenia over the Armenian Genocide let her not waste our time with recited rhetoric of a foreign government. Besides,we’ve heard it all before and have lost too much time because of people like the Ambassador who don’t have the power nor the face to stand up for what’s right. Instead of wasting time on the Ambassador I would rather invest it in the future generation of Armenian youth who will one day replace her.

  2. Gor said:

    In Boston, people were VERY tough on Amb. Y, as expected.

    The Boston people, mostly *neutrals* and non-affiliated I should note, stated their beliefs to Amb. Y., with a question added at the end. This is the way to do it since, of course, she did not truly “answer” any question, as we would expect. She is a diplomat, after all.

    This is what she was “asked”:

    1. Why is RNK not a direct participant in the OSCE talks? (She said because that is what the ROA government agreed to years ago under Kocharian).

    2. America’s strategic goal is to get into the Caucasus and get at the oil and gas ? (She said oil and gas were part of US interests, yes, but that the US really just wanted everyone in the Caucasus to be happy and hug and kiss the US).

    3. She was asked about the joint historical commission proposal and whether slavery or the Holocaust occurred should be subject to similar joint commissions. (She said that the US just wanted Armenia and Turkey to talk and be nice to each other, and that she thought Armenians and Turks should have more contact with one another so that they learn they have more in common than there are differences. It was touching, Everyone in the audience started to cry and sob uncontrollably with these comforting, humane words, from this saint of a woman).

    4. She was asked why some of Armenia’s MCC grants are being withheld by the US when Georgia and Azerbaijan’s human rights record is worse. (She said Armenia agreed to certain standards and should abide by them.)

    5. She was challenged, on the other hand, as to whether US criticism of Armenia depends on whether President Sargsian “plays ball” with the US and upholds US interests. I forget what she said, and does it even matter what she said?

    She is a Princeton graduate and supposedly has been in the foreign service for a long time, reportedly since college. On one occasion she apparently pretended not to hear a question. Seems she needed time to formulate a lie – er, I mean answer.

    She said she had been traveling so much that she did not know the situation in Iran over the last several days. That gives you an idea of how much you are going to get out of her. My advice is to educate your fellow audience members with your questions and let her know that we are onto her and Obama’s game.

  3. Aram said:

    I can’t wait to ask Ambassador Yovanovitch a very tough question in New York!

    U.S. policies toward Armenia and its people are totally unacceptable!

    Oil, gas, and oil. That’s all the U.S. really cares about. They don’t give a damn about human rights, democracy and economic development in Armenia. They have genocide denial written all over their faces. And, they are trying to advance their deplorable agenda by cozying up with and pressuring illegitimate Armenian authorities (smiles, handshakes, bribes and threats).

    Please attend these meetings and speak out. Don’t let her shame you, your people and homeland again!

  4. Hovsep Dagdigian said:

    Question 1:
    President Obama has advocated self-determination and democracy for many peoples, including most recently, Iranians. The vast majority of the citizens of the Nagorno-Karabagh autonomous region voted for self-determination during the Soviet era according to the laws in existence at that time. Consequently they were subjected to an attempted genocide by the government of Azerbaijan. Currently Nagorno-Karabagh is an evolving democracy. Azerbaijan is an autocratic government firmly in the hands of the Aliev family with no clear path to democracy in the foreseeable future. Moreover Azerbaijan continues to threaten Armenia and Karabagh with military force, and has demonstrated its attitude towards Armenian by utterly eliminating all traces of 2000 – 3000 year old Armenian cultural and religious monuments in Nakhichevan. Yet, the Obama administration advocated breaking parity on military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan in favor of Azerbaijan (of course!).

    There appears no prospect of Azerbaijan agreeing to self-determination for Karabagh. The Azeri government has stated this numerous times. How can the current administration with a straight face be an advocate of the universal rights to self determination when it denies this right for Karabagh? How can the Obama administration claim it is any different from previous administrations?

    Ambassador Yovanovitch replied something to the effect that the actions in Karabagh have not been solved. I stated that the main issue has been solved. Karabagh is independent. The issue now is that its independence is not recognized by the US and other major nations.

    Ambassador Yovanovitch stated that Karabagh’s independence is not even recognized by Armenia. I replied that Armenia does not formally recognized Karabagh as an independent state due to the pressure applied to Armenia by the US and other powers. But in fact (defacto) Armenia DOES recognize Karabagh’s independence.

    Question 2 – did not get a chance to ask:
    Senator Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Joseph Biden, advisor Samantha Power, Secretary Solarz and others in the current administration have all insisted it is inconsistent with American values to not publicly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. Yet President Obama evaded the use of the word “Genocide” on his April 24 statement. I was in Armenia at the time. The Armenians who thought the US had regained its principals now believe that President Obama is just another opportunistic politician. Moreover American Armenians who supported Obama feel betrayed. Brave Turks who are openly acknowledging the Armenian Genocide at great personal risk (remember Hrant Dink and other imprisoned intellectuals) are left without the support of the United States. Yes or no! Will President Obama acknowledge the Genocide? Not a tragedy, not mass killings, not a Medz Yeghern… GENOCIDE???

    Question 3 – asked after the formal question and answer session:
    Why does the Obama administration advocate violation of parity on military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan, just as the previous administration has? Azerbaijian has constantly pledged to use military force to “resolve” the Karabagh issue.

    Ambassador Yovanovitch stated that there were trafficking issues in Azerbaijan they were concerned with, and anyway the military aid being offered to both countries is “non-lethal” aid. I stated that a “non-lethal” radio can direct a lethal air strike. A non-lethal vehicle can position a lethal howitzer.

  5. Tsolin said:

    Our communities should have refused to meet with her. The idea that we must sit and listen to duplicity is sickening. Our precious energy should not be spent this way.

    But now that these meetings have been organized and accepted by Armenian community organizations, it becomes necessary for Armenians across the nation to attend these meetings to confront Yovanovitch with the truth.

    In Boston, even though tough questions were asked and Yovanovitch dodged them all, Armenians sat politely and exhibited respectful behavior towards a person who has been sent around to propagate and disseminate harmful policies towards the Armenian nation and people. It’s too bad no one brought a rotten egg or tomato to throw.

    Why was the US Senate’s “hold” on the appointment of the unrepentant, revisionist Yovanovitch removed in the first place? This has not been addressed in the Armenian press at all.

  6. Ruzanna (Armenia) said:

    I AGREE FULLY WITH MR. STANTON :

    “Turkey’s call for an “historical commission” to study the events of 1915 is an attempt to put genocide deniers on an

    equal level with genuine scholars. The IAGS passed a resolution in 1997 unanimously recognizing the Ottoman

    massacres of Armenians as genocide. Turkey’s latest proposal for an “historical commission” is just another red

    herring of denial drawn across the bloody scent of the Armenian genocide”

    Gregory Stanton, President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars,
    (from the letter to Mr. Obama 7 March, 2009)

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