Yovanovitch Evades the Community

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A patronizing tone, the dodging of questions and the banning of cameras from public events highlighted Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s tour of Armenian communities, which culminates in Washington on Tuesday.

Perhaps the clearest message coming from Yovanovitch was that President Obama’s April 24 statement outlines US policy and there was nothing more to add. She also insisted that she recognizes the frustration and anger of the Armenian-American community vis-à-vis President Obama’s broken promise to recognize the Genocide, and pledged she would take that message back to Washington with her.

In her meetings with Armenian-American communities on the East and West coasts Yovanovitch outlined US policy toward Armenia. She said the US was working hard on assisting Armenia to become economically independent, strengthen its democratic institutions and civil society. She also voiced support for the so-called “roadmap” agreement and the OSCE Minsk Group-led effort to find a lasting solution to the Karabakh conflict.

She reiterated earlier statements made in Yerevan that the disparity in the Administration’s proposed military budget for Armenia and Azerbaijan were aimed at bolstering US interests in the Caspian basin, which include counter-proliferation, counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism.

Beyond the simple recitation of U.S. policy positions that are already widely available across the internet, she brought nothing new to a community eager for honest discourse.  Nor did she make herself available for any detailed questioning on these topics of widespread concern, as is the norm for public officials in American civic life.

One questions the sincerity of her stated eagerness to meet and frankly discuss issues with the community when at every event television cameras were barred from taping the events. For someone who claimed that the US was “bolstering democracy” in Armenia, the banplaced on television cameras and the lukewarm treatment of the press at a conference on Friday signaled the Ambassador’s unwillingness to foster the administration stated policy of transparency and openness.

Her explanation was that since she was making similar presentations in different parts of the country, she did not want her message to get out before she could deliver it. She even went on to say that she did not want her message to wind up on YouTube.

At a press conference Friday at the Hilton Hotel in Glendale, Yovanovitch also dodged questions about the Genocide and was more comfortable answering questions about economic development and what the US was doing to benefit Armenia. It lasted 20 minutes and the press was brushed off.

Her decision to exclude cameras from the public events deprived the community from hearing her message and the response to the questions posed to her Friday evening by around 350 community members who attended the public gathering organized by the Western Prelacy at Ferrahian’s Avedissian hall. The same was the case Thursday evening at a gathering at the Diocese.

Through her remarks and through her actions, what Yovanovitch managed to accomplish was further alienate the community from their government here in the US. By underestimating the intelligence of the community and blatantly banning the press from events, Yovanovitch demonstrated that she and the administration are not interested in or eager to dialogue with the Armenian-American community.

The Armenian American community deserves answers to its myriad questions and fully expected to receive them during Yovanovitch’s visit. Instead they received an education in how to stage an ambassadorial visit that bills itself as open, but, in practice, undermines the very values we should be advancing both here and abroad, namely transparency, accountability, and good governance based on an informed and educated electorate.

Faced with legitimate questions and the prospect of a two-way dialogue and real public scrutiny, it seems she quickly reverted to the very types of behavior she has made a habit of sharply criticizing in Armenia.

We urge our readers to contact the US Embassy in Armenia at usinfo@usa.am. We can promise that we will pursue this matter and report on it in future editions of Asbarez.

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  1. Levon said:

    I don’t trust a word coming out of Yovanovitch’s mouth. As far as I’m concerned she’s full of hot air and takes us for fools. If Obama and the rest of the backstabbers thought she would be able to prance through our communities in a tactfully choreographed PR stunt and cool heads amongst our leaders they thought wrong.
    Yovanovitch is lucky we didn’t start throwing rotten tomatoes at her! Perhaps she should take that message back to Washington with her as well.
    Frankly, we’re probably better off as a community without her. I personally would rather not have her eyes or ears anywhere near our communities as she may be getting more from us then we are from her…

  2. Aram Suren Hamparian said:

    “If Turkey recognized the Armenian Genocide, would the U.S. then do the same?”

    The obvious answer to this queston, “yes, of course,” clearly illustrates that U.S. policy on this human rights issue is set in Ankara, not Washington.

    It’s this reality that explains why U.S. diplomats so ardently resist – in awkward and even ridiculous ways – the prospect of meaningful, transparent, and honest discourse on this subject.

  3. Aroudz said:

    Yovanovitch is a distraction. Obama and the State Department put her in place to keep our community preoccupied. She’s the official buffer zone between our community and the State Department that keeps heat away from the people that have power. She’s essentially the punching bag our community has at its disposal to vent our frustration on. Her job is to smile in the face of this anger and keep us quiet by reassuring our community that everything will be fine. 

    I agree with CK and Levon, Yovanovitch is a puppet. Why are we wasting our time with her when we could be spending precious time pressuring the people behind the scenes that actually pull her strings????????

  4. Hye4Life said:

    I agree with all the comments above. Yes she fits very well as being a punching bag for us to hit and steam off. But we HAVE TO STOP looking for our solutions among FORINGN leaders or departments. No Obama or any magic leader will help us as much as OUR OWN government or ppl. The actions of S. Sarkisyan and Edward Nalbandian have been that of an 8th grader. Look back at the decisions they have made for the last year or so. The so called Football diplomacy has been a joke, the roadmap to agreement with Turkey signed on 4/22/09, agreeing on historical commission on Armenian Genocide (proposed by Turkey), giving the Highest honor medal to Sahakshvili (and not even mentioning of Javahkh issue) and many other set backs on the Karabagh issue… God forbid UN Security Council with Turkey having the temporary seat, address the Karabagh issue at UN level and label Armenia as an “aggressor” nation. And what is government of Armenia doing about all this, nothing. We are keep losing on the public relations front as well and the image of Armenia has been greatly tarnished. There is no proper mechanism to properly and timely respond on Azeri and Turkish anti-Armenian propaganda. The Diaspora can only do so much on the PR front, but the voice of Armenian Government has to be much clear and forceful on anti-Armenian accusations.
    Sometimes the best defense is a stronger offense and it is long overdue for the Armenian side to ratchet up its propaganda on Azerbaijan and Turkey.

  5. Garo Avedis said:

    Armenians should sell thier assetts and move to Armenia,we have been lied to far too long in America,for over 30 years its the same American song and dance.

  6. James Sahagian said:

    Perhaps our best efforts would be spent “preaching to the choir,” rather than placing false hope in double-talking politicians. If the leadership in Yerevan can’t see the need for international recognition of the Genocide, is willing to follow a map to nowhere, and awards medals to hostile leaders, while posing for smily pictures with sabre-rattling, unrepentant pan-Turkic leaders, we’ve gotta get our own house in order before we aim to argue our just cause to any other power brokers.


    I was at one those meetings but never got a chance to ask my question. Which was: Why are you here? If you are here to gain our support or respect, nothing you can say will get you our support. Because, for 94 years we have been lied to by our politicians. Words don’t mean anything anymore, specially coming from a politician. The only way you can earn our support is by action!

    1. We like to see you release the MCC funds instead of using it as a political tool to get more concessions from the Armenian leadership.

    2. When a crime is committed, the Government applies pressure on the criminal and not on the victim. I think our Government has this backwards; instead of applying pressure on the Turks (murderers) to recognise the Armenian Genocide and pay reparations, they are pressureing the Armenian leadership (victims) to make more concessions.
    3. If we pressure Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide and make reparations, we won’t need any handouts from the U.S. Government.

  8. Samvel Topchian said:

      Every nation , every ethnic group , every individual except armenian , would react as wild and violent as possible even to woman-ambassador … Tomatoes , pop-corn , booeing , trowing her out of the room etc . etc . What about us ? Well , we will try to be even more civilized  than whole history of the mankind ever knew or wrote in the most romantic books … Our (own) “leaders” can be called nothing more than followers , because they can not and do not want to react right away to insult and slap on our collective face … We can not blame anybody but us … Well , one more remaining that our destiny is in our own hands … Recognition of Genocide thru international court – is the only possible way stop this injustice   …  
    Only nations with it’s own nationalistic mentality survive and prosper in this  type of cinical world … We should get exact copy of behavior the others have .