ANCA Welcomes New U.S. Pressure On Turkey to Return Stolen Religious Properties

Secretary Clinton

Secretary Clinton offers written assurance to the ANCA that the U.S. government is pressing the Turkish government to restore confiscated properties

WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America has welcomed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first-ever public assertion that the U.S. government is actively pressing the highest levels of the Turkish government to restore confiscated properties to religious communities.

Secretary Clinton’s acknowledgment of Washington’s pressure on Ankara came in a written response to an August 15, 2011 ANCA letter in which the organization’s national chairman, Ken Hachikian, shared with her the Armenian American community’s objections to U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone’s serious mischaracterization regarding the number of Christian churches that escaped Ottoman and, later, Republican Turkey’s campaigns of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and cultural destruction.

Secretary Clinton, in her response, stated: “We continue to stress the importance we attach to religious freedom in Turkey with Turkish leaders.  We also continue to raise our concerns regarding the restoration of previously confiscated properties to religious communities with Turkish authorities at the highest levels.  In this regard, we will be following closely the implementation of the Government of Turkey’s August 27 decree to return all confiscated immovable property belonging to 162 officially recognized non-Muslim religious community foundations in Turkey.”

The letter from Secretary Clinton, coming less than two months after the near-unanimous July 20th vote by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee calling on the State Department to pressure Turkey to return stolen Christian churches, reflects the growing momentum of the “return of churches” movement among Armenian Americans, other Christian groups persecuted by Turkey, and, more broadly, by advocates of religious freedom.  The controversy over Ambassador Ricciardone’s mistaken response, which was viewed widely as a bid to appease Ankara, delayed his confirmation by the U.S. Senate until October 4.

In the ANCA’s response to Secretary Clinton’s letter, Hachikian noted that: “We welcome your commitment to the restoration by Turkey of all confiscated religious properties, and look forward to your leadership in producing concrete results in support of our nation’s policy on this matter.  Your powerful words – stated in no uncertain terms – provide reassurance that we, as Americans, are on the side of justice on this issue of fundamental fairness and religious freedom.”  He added that: “The Armenian American community will stand in solidarity with you – as will all concerned Americans – as you pursue this matter with the Turkish government in the months to come. We respectfully ask you, Madam Secretary, to stay firm in this diplomacy.  We ask, as well, that you appropriately dismiss superficial and token acts by the Turkish government, including isolated restorations and conversions of churches into museums, designed to distract attention from the pressing need for Ankara’s acceptance of a comprehensive resolution of the vast theft and destruction of religious properties.”

Hachikian also reviewed for Secretary Clinton the Armenian American community’s profound disappointment over the legacy of U.S. complicity in Turkey’s campaign to block a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide, stating: “Our diplomatic record shows that American leaders have repeatedly caved in to Turkish government pressure, effectively allowing the most extremist and intolerant domestic constituencies within Turkish society to dictate American policy on the Armenian Genocide and other vital issues concerning justice, religious freedom, and human rights.  Our ill-advised appeasement of such irrational and hateful views continues to undermine the small, but growing, element of civil society within Turkey that has shown tremendous courage in demanding that their government speak truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and behave justly with the Armenian people.”

The ANCA concluded its letter with its traditional request that Secretary Clinton hold a meeting with the broad-based collective leadership of the Armenian American community.

Visit the ANCA Web site  for additional information on this subject.

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12 Comments

  1. Boghos said:

    Please be aware that neither the US nor Clinton care one whit about Armenians or stolen property. Their effort serves several purposes:
    1. The US looks good.
    2. Obama and Democrats get Armenian votes.
    3. Armenians get something trivial from Turkey and Turkey gets to look good.
    4. The Genocide issue, reparations, and land, are pushed to the side.

    Do not be fooled. A few stolen relics or churches being returned are not Hye Tahd. They are Turkey’s way to escape responsibility!

    • HebardHigh said:

      Sirelie Boghos,

      I love you man. You expressed exactly what I wanted to convey, only you were polite. I could not hold it. I had to throw out.

      The article is trying to soften our feelings towards the Armenian Genocide deniers Barak Obama, Queen Nancy, and brain dead Reed.

      How could the Armenian National Committee of America welcome Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first-ever public s#@$?

      Dear Armenians, please don’t believe to this paper anymore, or event to the ANCA. Soon this paper will tell us vote for Obama, because he promised us he will recognize the Armenian Genocide during the next year.

  2. Vahe said:

    Its a start Boghos….first comes the return of churches, then the recognition of the Genocide, then reparations….cant have everything at once….most important thing Armenians can do is help build a prosperous Armenia by creating jobs and reducing unemployment….Once we create a viable Armenia in the South Caucuses, then everything else will fall into place :)

  3. Hrant (Din) K. said:

    The Honorary Mme Secretary has been probably one of the few high ranking US officials to have visited

    the Dzidzernagapert Genocide Memorial Temple and Meseum in Yerevan. My friend and compatriot

    brother Boghos, being sceptic is not the solution, give the the ANCA and its Chairman and Crew some

    Credit for their relentless efforts and time they’re putting!

    Afterall, there has to be a start from somewhere, no matter how minimal!

    If you have better suggestions in persuing the Hye Tahd, you’re most welcome to enlighten us, otherwise

    allow your fellow Armenian Leaders as well as our “friendly” American officials to do their job

    PROPERLY, “merging” their interests with “OURS’ ” ! Being active and positive is the solution !

    • Avery said:

      Sect. Clinton visited Dzidzernagapert as a, quote, ‘private citizen’ – whatever that means – not officially as the Secretary of State of the USA. Reason of course is that an official visit would imply Recognition of AG by USA.

      Nevertheless, ANCA publicly praising Sect. Clinton is the right and smart thing to do.
      Everybody know it is a dance, so we dance.

  4. Araxi said:

    It’s election time in the US. Armenians should not trust these two faced politicians.
    Do not vote for any of the two big parties. They are “Դավաջաններ”.

  5. Albert Nercessian said:

    They want to kiss Turkish feet to get this stupid US early warning radar built in Turkey. The Obama administration is foolish to pick Turkey for this radar site. Why don’t they pick Greece, Cyprus or even Georgia to build this radar site. Turkey has done a nice job of fooling the US into thinking that they are their allies in the Middle East. What a joke.

  6. Sedat said:

    Will Armenia return stolen land and property of Azerbaijan,double standards its great isn’t it..

  7. Alex Postallian said:

    The whole story on the Clintons…Started with 0000000.She got in a scam,that the Justice Dept. blinked.He became president,(no comment)Now she is ready to hang it up.The turkies,gooble,gooble,have filled her back pocket,so she is their STOOGE.For money they will do anything,the jews took care of her husband,he was their STOOGE.

    • Alex Postallian said:

      May I ask her(clinton) was it worth it to sell your soul and America for a few shekels from the turks,and go down in history,as a failure in the job,and have a for sale sign on your back forever. I remember, when I was a kid,you would say,put a $100. suit on a bum,he still looks like a bum.

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