WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans, only days after completing an official tour of Armenian American communities during which he repeatedly gave recognition to the Armenian Genocide, has noted that these comments were his private views and do not reflect a change in U.S. government policy. His statement on this subject was posted today on the Embassy’s website – www.usa.am.
“Armenian Americans are profoundly disappointed by those influential officials that remain within the Administration who – against all facts and contrary to U.S. interests – are still able to impose their agenda on every front of the increasingly untenable and lop-sided U.S.-Turkey relationship. This is particularly troubling, coming at a time when Turkey has obstructed U.S. regional objectives, deceived U.S. policymakers, and fostered an unprecedented level of anti-American sentiment among its citizens. As a community, we vigorously condemn the ongoing policy of U.S. complicity in Turkey’s shameful campaign of Genocide denial,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
“Regardless of the disappointing outcome of this episode, we commend Amb. Evans for his courage in coming forward and publicly stating his views on the Armenian Genocide, views that are shared by all but the Turkish government and its surrogates. In so doing, the Ambassador has placed this issue prominently on America’s public agenda. For our part, as Armenian Americans, on this year of the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, we will pursue this matter with renewed vigor – with the White House, Congress, and the entire foreign policy community,” added Hamparian.
Ambassador Evans comments were made at a series of public Armenian American community outreach events in Boston, New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno and Washington, DC. During his presentations in these cities, the Ambassador spoke with a level of candor on the Armenian Genocide that was specifically welcomed by Armenian Americans.
During his public presentation at the University of California, Berkeley, hosted by Armenian Studies Program Executive Director, Prof. Stephan Astourian, Evans announced, “I will today call it the Armenian Genocide.” The Ambassador, who has studied Russian History at Yale and Columbia universities and Ottoman History at the Kennan Institute, argued that, “we, the US government, owe you, our fellow citizens a more frank and honest way of discussing this problem. Today, as someone who’s studied it… There’s no doubt in my mind what happened.” He explained that he had also consulted with a State Department lawyer who confirmed that the events of 1915 were “genocide by definition.”
Amb. Evans’ commitment to moral clarity came through in further remarks, stating “I think it is unbecoming of us as Americans to play word games here. I believe in calling things by their name.”
During a speech to schoolchildren at the Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Los Angeles, Amb. Evans cited with pride that 37 U.S. states had recognized the Armenian Genocide.
The full text of Amb. Evans February 28th statement follows.
EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
MARSHALL BAGHRAMIAN STREET 18
TELEPHONE (+374 1) 52 78 71; 52 16 11; 52 46 61
FAX (+374 1) 52 08 00
U.S. Ambassador: Regarding comments made in the United States
I would like to clarify U.S. policy. Misunderstandings make have arisen as a result of comments made by me during recent informal meetings with Armenian-American groups in the United States regarding the characterization of the Armenian tragedy in Ottoman Turkey and the future status of Nagorno Karabakh.
Although I told my audiences that the United States policy on the Armenian Genocide has not changed, I used the term “genocide” speaking in what I characterized as my personal capacity. This was inappropriate.
The President’s annual statement on Armenian Remembrance Day articulates U.S. policy on this matter. My government acknowledges the tragedy that befell the Armenian community in Anatolia during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. We have been actively encouraging scholarly, civil society and diplomatic discussion of the forced killing and exile of Armenians in 1915. We have also encouraged economic and political dialogue between the governments of Armenia and Turkey in order to help all parties come to terms with these horrific events.
In addition, my comments on the status of Nagorno Karabakh may have also created misunderstanding on U.S. policy. The U.S. government supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and holds that the future status of Nagorno Karabakh is a matter of negotiation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict through the Minsk group process. We are encouraged by the continuing talks between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan under the auspice of the Minsk group co-chairs.
I deeply regret any misunderstanding caused by my comments.
John M. Evans
U.S. Ambassador to Armenia