WASHINGTON–The credibility of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen in leading a newly launched genocide prevention initiative was called into question, today, by reporters who cited their ongoing efforts to block Congressional reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide (H.Res.106 / S.Res.106), reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“Sadly, the Genocide Prevention Task Force’s worthwhile efforts to build consensus for an unconditional stand against genocide as a core U.S. foreign policy priority are undermined right out of the box by the fact that its leading figures, Madeleine Albright and William Cohen, are today actively and publicly working to block American recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
Secretaries Cohen and Albright were keynote speakers at a National Press Club press conference hosted this morning by the U.S. Holocaust Museum and Memorial, U.S. Institute for Peace, and American Academy of Diplomacy, to announce the formation of the Genocide Prevention Task Force, which the two will co-chair.
In response to questions raised by Hamparian and reporters from media outlets including Asbarez, the Armenian Weekly, and the Armenian Reporter, the two former secretaries were largely evasive, and consistently used euphemistic language to avoid proper reference to the Armenian Genocide.
“There are no absolutes in this,” explained Secretary Cohen, referring to U.S. action against genocide. “There is an element of pragmatism… I think anyone serving in public office necessarily has to have a set of balancing factors to take into account.”
Secretary Albright stressed that taking action on genocide is a difficult decision. “These are issues people have talked about a long time and they may come out in statemen’s and then, ultimately, when you’re in the government (as we both have been) and you have to make very tough decisions, you have to look at the overall picture. I think we have to admit that. Otherwise, we’re not going to get off the ground here. These are very, very hard issues.”
“Secretaries Albright and Cohen can’t have it both ways. Either they stand unconditionally against all genocides all the time, or, by choosing to only raise their voices when it’s convenient, they surrender their moral standing on this, the core human rights and humanitarian issue our time,” commented Hamparian.
In a September 25 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright opposed Congressional consideration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106). A similar letter was sent by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen on September 7.
H.Res.106, introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) with lead supporters George Radanovich (R-CA), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), currently has over 200 cosponsors.
On October 10, the House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted the resolution, which calls on U.S. foreign policy to properly reflect the genocide of over 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children from 1915-1923 in Ottoman Turkey. A similar measure in the Senate, led by Deputy Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and John Ensign (R-NV), has 33 cosponsors. The House measure is expected to come to a floor vote later in 2007 or 2008.