09/24/10 - Rep. Costa writes a letter to President Obama asking him to pull the nomination of Matt Bryza to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan.
07/28/10 - During House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Turkey, Rep. Costa confronted genocide denial by Michael Rubin, a panelist, and asked about Turkey's failure to move on the Protocols.
04/27/10 - (Mr. COSTA asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.) Remarks on the House floor regarding 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Mr. Speaker, April 24 marked the 95th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Last Saturday I participated with the Armenian community in Fresno to commemorate this horrific tragedy.
I, once again, call upon this body to pass the Armenian genocide resolution. In my remarks before the Foreign Affairs Committee markup of House Resolution 252, I indicated that historians have clearly documented this event. Back home, as I grew up, my Armenian friends told me of the stories of the systematic approach to eliminate the Armenian communities from their farms, their homes, and their lives. It was the first genocide of the 20th Century. They believe it and so do I.
Theodore Roosevelt once wrote: ?The Armenian massacre was the greatest crime of World War I, and the failure to act against Turkey is to condone it.?
No one holds modern-day Turkey responsible for the past sins of the Ottoman Empire, but they should recognize their history, apologize, and move on to establish diplomatic relationships with Armenia.
There is never a right time to recognize the genocide. We cannot wait around for a convenient time. I urge we pass this resolution.
04/21/10 - Capitol Hill Commemoration interview with Rep. Costa - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z70ILrnxP00
03/04/10 - Remarks offered during House Committee on Foreign Affairs markup of H. Res. 252 --- Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for allowing us the opportunity to debate this important resolution. As we approach the 95th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide I would call on my colleagues, notwithstanding all the issues that are before us, that we pass this resolution.
I think by any reasonable standard, established history shows that between 1915 and 1923 the Ottoman Empire?the Ottoman Empire, not the present day Turkish Government?but the Ottoman Empire systematically killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians and drove hundreds of thousands of others into exile from their ancestral homeland.
This atrocity is well documented in the United States Archives, it has been universally accepted in the International Association of Genocide Scholars and broader academic communities. Now, as members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, we all approach this issue from different perspectives. One can debate specific historical instances, but I can tell you from my own personal experiences, having grown up in Fresno, California, the land of William Saroyan, that I heard stories as a young man from my grandparents and from grandparents of my neighbors and friends of Armenian families about being forced to leave their homes, the stories of long marches and horrific murders, systematically.
Clearly they believed this was a systematic approach to eliminate the Armenian communities in places that had been their home and farms for centuries. My Armenian friends in the neighborhoods that I grew up in believed this was a systematic approach among the first genocides of the twentieth century, and so do I. The Armenian Genocide created a framework of genocide as we consider similar atrocities that continue to occur not only in the twentieth century but in the twenty-first century.
It has been noted before, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and now Darfur. As leaders we must not allow Turkey, with all due respect, to ask us to believe that the Armenian Genocide was not a genocide or that it did not occur. In standing up to this policy of denial, we honor the martyrs of the genocide and encourage our Turkish allies, our friends of modern day Turkey, to come to terms with this past.
Three years ago I, as a part of this committee, visited Turkey. I met with the Foreign Minister. He is now the President of Turkey. I raised this issue. I talked about the fact that countries, including ours, have part of our pasts, as was noted here earlier, that we are not proud of. Certainly slavery was a part of our past that we were not proud of. But we have acknowledged that and we have moved on. I suggested to then the Foreign Minister who is now President that Turkey work its way through this, because no one holds modern day Turkey responsible for what took place 95 years ago.
So in a very powerful significant way, we reinforce our own vital role as Americans in leading the international community toward unconditional opposition to all instances of genocide.
Supporters of this resolution are constantly told, and it has been said here today, that this is not the right time. Well, let me add my voice to those who have also indicated that if this is not the right time, please tell me when the right time will be. Genocide must never be something that is glossed over or forgotten. As world leaders, the United States must recognize this genocide and continue to strongly condemn any genocide around the world as we stand up for human rights and American values.
We simply cannot continue our policy of denial regarding the Armenian Genocide, the first in the twentieth century that was recognized. So I encourage all of my members, all the members of this committee to support House Resolution 252 to recognize the Armenian Genocide as a matter of fact by this Congress.
So I proudly today, in honor of those who I grew up with, the Kazarians, the Kollegians, the Bakers, the Abrahamians, the Karabians, and the Kashians, that listening to those stories as a young man I never ever forgot, and this vote today that I will cast is in honor of their families who did suffer as a result of the Armenian Genocide. I lend back the balance of my time.
12/09/09 - Rep. Costa with Chairman of Armenian National Assembly Foreign Relations Committee, Armen Rustamyan.
04/22/09 - (Mr. COSTA asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 94th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide, which was the first genocide of the 20th century. Sadly, that template has been a cycle that continues to this day.
In this case, it was established by history that from 1915 to 1923 the Ottoman Empire systematically killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians and drove hundreds of thousands of others into exile from their ancestral homeland.
President Obama made promises during his campaign that he would finally recognize the Armenian genocide. It is vital to our Nation and to our foreign policy that we accurately reflect history. My district, in the San Joaquin Valley of California, is home to thousands of Armenian Americans, many of whom are the sons and daughters of survivors. We are quickly approaching the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide. I am hopeful we don't have to wait until then to bring justice to my Armenian friends and neighbors.
We know that genocide, sadly, continues to this day. The United States cannot continue a policy of denial regarding the Armenian genocide. I encourage the passage of House Resolution 252 to recognize the Armenian genocide in our Nation.
04/22/09 - Remarks submitted for the Congressional Record --- Madam Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 94th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide, which was the first genocide of the 20th century and sadly, the template for a cycle of genocide that continues to this very day.
It is, by any reasonable standard, established history that between 1915 and 1923 the Ottoman Empire systematically killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians and drove hundreds of thousands of others into exile from their ancestral homeland. The record of this atrocity is well documented in the United States Archives and has been universally accepted in the International Association of Genocide Scholars and the broader historical and academic communities.
This year, our Nation has the opportunity to finally recognize the Armenian Genocide as such in the annual commemoration from the White House. Year after year, we have seen the same standard letter from the White House which offers sympathy and apology for the ``mass killings,'' yet refused to label these events as genocide. However, President Obama made promises during his campaign that he would right this wrong, and recognize the Armenian Genocide. I am hopeful Madam Speaker, we finally escape from being under Turkey's thumb on this issue. It is vital our Nation has a foreign policy that accurately reflects history.
Despite my optimism, I am told yet again that now is not the right time for our Nation to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Two years ago, we were told recognition would hurt our troops fighting in Iraq. Four years ago we were told the same thing. This year, we're being told that recognizing the Armenian Genocide will hurt American jobs. How? We cannot develop a foreign policy based solely on what other countries want to hear about their past. Should we not recognize the Soviet orchestrated famine which killed millions in the Ukraine? Should we allow Cambodia to rewrite the atrocities committed under the reign of the Khmer Rouge? What if our schools stopped teaching the American Revolution and we stopped celebrating the Fourth of July because it offended the British? All nations must recognize past events, both good and bad, and learn from it.
To ensure Congress does not mention or pass the Armenian Genocide resolution, Turkey hires powerful and expensive lobbyists to meet with Members and staff, distort the historical facts, and make veiled threats on what might happen if the Genocide is recognized. For the last 20 years, Turkey has been very successful. I firmly believe that we should work with foreign nations on challenges and mutual interests. However, I do not believe another nation can hold our foreign policy decisions hostage because they do not want to admit to dark periods in their past. It is unacceptable that we continue to allow threats from Turkey to hinder our Nation from recognizing a historical fact that has been recognized by historians, scholars, theologians, philosophers, common people, and President Ronald Reagan.
My district is home to thousands of Armenian -Americans, many who are the sons and daughters of survivors. When I am home, I am often approached in the store or on the street by my Armenian friends asking when our country will honor their parents and finally recognize the genocide. We are quickly approaching the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide, and I am hopeful we do not have to wait until then to bring justice to my Armenian friends and neighbors.
In closing, Madam Speaker, I will say again, genocide is not something that can simply be swept under the rug and forgotten. We need leaders around the world to not only recognize it, but to condemn it so the world can truly say ``Never Again.'' The United States cannot continue its policy of denial regarding the Armenian Genocide, and I encourage passage of H. Res. 252 to recognize the Armenian Genocide in our Nation.