Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to ask you to support Armenia.
The world’s first Christian nation, Armenia shares America’s democratic values, embraces our commonly held aspirations for global peace and prosperity, and actively partners with the United States on a broad array of regional and international challenges. It is in the spirit of America’s century-long friendship with Armenia – and consistent with the hopes and expectations of our nation’s close to two million citizens of Armenian heritage – that I ask you to advance the following policy priorities:
Reject Turkey’s Armenian Genocide Gag-Rule:
I ask you to join with Americans across our great nation in properly marking April 24th as a day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide.
Your proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a clear case of genocide would represent a long overdue break with the practice of past Presidents, who have, under public pressure from the Turkish government, resorted to euphemisms and evasive terminology to describe this crime against humanity. As you would no doubt agree, foreign governments have no right to impose a gag-rule on America, to attempt to exercise veto against a U.S. President, or to demand that our nation compromise our international moral leadership.
The historical record – including our own U.S. archives – document that the Ottoman Empire, between 1915 and 1923, intentionally and systematically undertook the genocidal destruction of its Christian minorities. Millions of Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Greeks, Pontians, Syriacs, and other Christians were murdered and millions more were forced into exile from their biblical-era homelands. The American people and government played a major role in caring for the survivors of this crime, many of whom eventually found safe haven in America. Sadly, we are today, once again, witnessing similar atrocities upon these very same lands, committed by ISIS and other extremists, against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities.
Your proper remembrance of the Armenian Genocide would reaffirm past U.S. recognition of this crime, including the Eisenhower Administration’s 1951 submission to the International Court of Justice, President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Proclamation (No. 4838), and legislation adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives, HJR148 adopted (April 8, 1975) and HJR247 (September 10, 1984). More broadly, an honest reckoning with the Armenian Genocide – by the United States and eventually by Turkey itself – will contribute to the reduction of regional tensions and create opportunities for the sustainable development of Armenian-Turkish relations. It is in this spirit of peace and justice, and in the hopes that our nation will stand up to foreign pressure on this human rights issue, that I call upon you to accurately and explicitly condemn and commemorate the Armenian Genocide.
Supporting a Peaceful Resolution in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh):
I encourage you to extend formal U.S. recognition of the independent Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) Republic and to take steps – including the provision of defensive arms and increased developmental assistance – to ensure Artsakh’s security in the face of continued Azerbaijani aggression.
In addition, I encourage your Administration to strengthen the 1994 cease-fire by challenging Azerbaijan’s escalation of military aggression, ensuring Artsakh’s full participation in all negotiations, and overcoming Azerbaijan’s efforts to obstruct implementation of the Royce-Engel proposals. These three common sense proposals call for the: 1) Non-deployment of snipers and heavy arms near line-of-contact; 2) Addition of OSCE observers along the line-of-contact, and; Deployment of gunfire locators along the line-of-contact.
U.S. recognition of Artsakh, along with a stable cease-fire, will help foster a conducive environment for a peaceful, negotiated settlement that – durably and democratically – resolves outstanding security and status issues related to the Artsakh Republic.
Growing the U.S.-Armenia Economic Relationship:
I look to your Administration to meaningfully expand U.S.-Armenia ties, particularly our economic relationship and military partnership. Building upon the 2015 signing of a bilateral U.S.-Armenia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, I ask you to: 1) Negotiate a Tax Treaty eliminating the threat of double taxation of firms operating in both jurisdictions; 2) Extend a new Millennium Challenge Account compact with Armenia that funds STEM education, and; 3) support the launch of direct Los Angeles to Yerevan flights, strengthening the travel and commercial connection between our two nations. In terms of our international assistance programs, I urge you to budget increased direct aid to Artsakh and Armenia, with a particularly robust funding to help Armenia settle at-risk refugees from the Middle East.
Helping Armenia complete an Aid-to-Trade transition will save U.S. tax dollars, creating jobs in both countries, reinforcing Armenian independence in the face of pressure from regional powers, and strengthening America’s active engagement and enduring friendship with the Armenian people
Fundamentally Review U.S.-Turkey Relations:
In closing, I call upon you to lead a fundamental review the state of U.S. military and political relations with the Turkish government, including careful scrutiny of pending and proposed arms sales and a thorough reevaluation of the continued stationing of strategic nuclear weapons in Turkey. Such a reassessment of outdated Cold War-era models of engagement with and increasingly unreliable, often hostile, Turkish regime is clearly long overdue.
Please accept my thanks for your consideration of each of my recommendations and my congratulations on your inauguration as President of the United States of America.