WASHINGTON–Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) has indicated that he is not prepared to support the nomination of Richard Hoagland as US Ambassador to Armenia until he receives meaningful responses to a series of questions–including several specific inquiries concerning the firing of the current Ambassador John Evans–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
In a July 26 letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice–Senator Reed explained that he is "concerned that Ambassador Evans is being forced to resign prematurely." He stressed that he is "particularly troubled" by reports that he is being recalled because he properly characterized the Armenian Genocide as a genocide. "Had the term genocide been coined in the early 1900s–it would have been used to accurately describe the situation," added the senior Senator from Rhode Island.
In closing–Senator Reed asserted that he would not be prepared to support the nomination of a new ambassador to Armenia until he understands the answers to the following questions:
1. Why is Ambassador Evans being replaced a year before the end of the customary three-year ambassador term? If he resigned–why would the State Department accept the resignation of a truly dedicated individual who is highly respected by the Armenian community?
2. Has the President or State Department directed–either through written or oral means–Executive Branch personnel not to use the word ‘genocide’ when referring to the atrocities waged against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire? What is the justification for such a policy?
3. If it is the policy of the United States to not characterize the systematic killing of over 1.5 million Armenia’s as genocide–please elaborate on why these events do not meet the definitions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
4. During Ambassador Richard Hoagland’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee–regarding the Armenian genocide he stated "I simply have studied the president’s policy. I’ve studied the background papers on the policy–and my responsibility is to support the President." What do the background papers say regarding the Armenian Genocide? I respectfully request a copy of these background papers so I can better understand the President’s policy. If that is not possible–I would like to know why.
5. A recent press report outlined Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza as saying the following regarding Ambassador Evans–"Ambassadors serve the President and should follow his policy. President George Bush’s policy on the mass killings of Armenia’s is very clear–as he points out in his annual addresses. If someone disagrees with it–they are at liberty to make their own decisions–but these should not be divulged. Certainly–our job is also to advise him–but we must support his policy when it comes to public statemen’s." This reporting indicates that Ambassador Evans was asked to resign based on this prior statemen’s regarding the Armenian genocide. If this is not the case–would you explain the statement by Mr. Bryza and its relation to Ambassador Evans?"
Sen. Reed is the latest Member of Congress to express concern about the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Amb. Evans and the State Department’s policy on the Armenian Genocide. To date–half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee–including Senators George Allen (R-Va.)–Ranking Member Joseph Biden (D-Del.)–Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)–Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)–Norm Coleman (R-Minn.)–Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.)–Russell Feingold (D-Wisc.),John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.)–have already contacted Secretary Rice or questioned Ambassador Designate Hoagland directly regarding these issues. Over sixty members of the House have also expressed concerns to the State Department–with responses side-stepping the core issues.
On July 18–the ANCA issued a statement opposing the Hoagland nomination–following several responses to Senate inquiries where the Ambassador Designate denied the Armenian Genocide.