WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today welcomed a second “hold” placed by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on the controversial confirmation of Richard E. Hoagland as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The New Jersey legislator’s decision comes just two days after the Bush Administration re-nominated Hoagland, a diplomat whose denial of the Armenian Genocide generated widespread Congressional opposition and Armenian American community outrage culminating in his first Senatorial “hold” in the recently concluded 109th Congress.
“We join with Armenians from New Jersey and throughout the United States in thanking Senator Menendez, yet again, for his steadfast and principled stand in blocking the Hoagland nomination,” said Ken Hachikian, Chairman of the ANCA.
In a statement released earlier today, Senator Menendez explained that, “given the circumstances and controversy surrounding Mr. Hoagland’s nomination, I believe that the best way to move forward would be for the president to nominate a new candidate for this ambassadorship.” Sen. Menendez denounced the policy of U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, stating, “I also believe that the State Department and the Bush administration are just flat-out wrong in their refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide. It is well past time for American diplomacy to drop the euphemisms, the wink-wink, nod-nod brand of foreign policy that overlooks heinous atrocities committed around the world.”
“If there is any sincerity behind the Bush administration’s rhetoric about ‘liberty on the march’ – if ‘never again’ is to be more than a bumper sticker slogan – then American diplomacy should consist of nothing less than unvarnished honesty with our friends and enemies alike. And we must call genocide by its name,” noted Sen. Menendez.
The Hoagland nomination faced bipartisan opposition in the 109th Congress – and was ultimately blocked by a parliamentary “hold” placed by Senator Menendez – after, in written statements offered in response to questions posed to him during his confirmation hearing, the nominee went far beyond the bounds of the Administration’s already deeply flawed policy, actually calling into question the Armenian Genocide as a historical fact.
A recent poll of Armenian Americans found that 97% opposed the Hoagland nomination. Ninety-four percent of the respondents said that they “strongly agreed” with the Senate’s opposition to his nomination. An additional 3% noted that they “somewhat agreed” with this opposition. One percent reported that they “somewhat disagreed” with opposing Hoagland, and 2% indicated that they “strongly disagreed” with the opposition to his confirmation.
In announcing his “hold” last September, the Sen. Menendez cited the principled stand taken by former U.S. Ambassador John Evans, who was fired for speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide, underscoring his “great concerns that Mr. Hoagland’s confirmation would be a step backward.”
Citing the opposition of the Armenian American community and the growing controversy within Congress surrounding the nomination, Senator Menendez was joined on December 1st by incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in calling on President George W. Bush to withdraw the Hoagland nomination and propose a new candidate to serve in this important diplomatic post. They stressed that, in light of the broad-based concerns within Congress, the extensive media coverage this issue has received, and the strong stand of the Armenian American community against the nomination, “it would serve neither our national interests nor the U.S.-Armenia relationship to expect Ambassador-designate Hoagland to carry out his duties under these highly contentious and profoundly troubling circumstances.”
On December 8th of last year, after the Senate failed to confirm Hoagland, his nomination was returned to the President upon the adjournment of the 109th Congress. With the expiration of the Hoagland nomination, the President was free to offer a new candidate for this diplomatic posting in the 110th Congress, but chose instead to submit the same one, despite strong Congressional opposition to his confirmation.
More than half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and more than 60 U.S. Representatives have raised concerns about the Hoagland nomination and the State Department’s refusal to explain the controversial firing of his predecessor, John Marshall Evans, for speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide. The Department of State has also failed to offer any meaningful explanation of the role that the Turkish government played in the Evans issue.
From the website of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
MENENDEZ PLACES SECOND HOLD ON HOAGLAND NOMINATION
Thursday, January 11, 2007
WASHINGTON – United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today placed a second hold on the nomination of Richard E. Hoagland, the Bush administration’s nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Armenia. This is the second hold Menendez has placed on Hoagland’s nomination since last September.
The hold, a parliamentary privilege accorded to U.S. Senators, follows the Bush administration’s re-nomination of Hoagland to serve in this post – a move necessitated by the lapsing of Hoagland’s previous nomination last year.
“By all accounts, Ambassador Hoagland is a distinguished career Foreign Service Officer who has served America with distinction and honor during his time at the State Dept.,” Menendez said. “However, given the circumstances and controversy surrounding Mr. Hoagland’s nomination, I believe that the best way to move forward would be for the president to nominate a new candidate for this ambassadorship.
“I also believe that the State Dept. and the Bush administration are just flat-out wrong in their refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide. It is well past time for American diplomacy to drop the euphemisms, the wink-wink, nod-nod brand of foreign policy that overlooks heinous atrocities committed around the world.”
“If there is any sincerity behind the Bush administration’s rhetoric about ‘liberty on the march’ – if ‘never again’ is to be more than a bumper sticker slogan – then American diplomacy should consist of nothing less than unvarnished honesty with our friends and enemies alike. And we must call genocide by its name.”
Menendez and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last month wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to withdraw the nomination of Richard E. Hoagland to be U.S. Ambassador to Armenia. Hoagland’s nomination has been beset by controversy from the outset. Menendez in September lodged a hold on Hoagland’s nomination, using a parliamentary privilege afforded to U.S. Senators that prevented the ambassador-designate’s confirmation by the full Senate. Because of this controversy, Menendez and Reid called on Secretary Rice to advance another candidate for consideration.
The Ottoman Empire brutally tortured and killed nearly 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923 and forced half a million Armenians to flee their homeland.