WASHINGTON, DC – Following a year of Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) led Armenian American community opposition to the controversial appointment of an Armenian Genocide denier as U.S. envoy to Yerevan, the White House, today, announced the withdrawal of the nomination of Dick Hoagland as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia.
“We are gratified to see that the Administration has finally come to recognize what the ANCA and the Armenian American community have understood for more than a year – that Dick Hoagland — through his own words and action – disqualified himself as an effective representative of either American values or U.S. interests as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We would like to thank Senator Menendez for his principled leadership in impressing upon the Administration that a genocide denier should never and must never represent the U.S. in Armenia.”
“This is certainly welcome news,” stated Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). “It was clear that their nominee to fill his place was controversial. I hope that our next nominee will bring a different understanding to this issue and foster a productive relationship with our friends in Armenia.”
House Armenian Genocide resolution lead sponsor Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) concurred, stating “The President was right to withdraw Mr. Hoagland’s nomination. During his confirmation hearings, Mr. Hoagland continued to deny that the massacre of a million and a half Armenians between 1915 and 1923 was genocide, thereby compounding the injury done to the Armenian people and, especially, the few remaining survivors of the first genocide of the Twentieth Century. I hope that the President will soon nominate a new ambassador who will be more forthcoming in discussing the Armenian Genocide”
The ANCA first announced its opposition to the Hoagland appointment on July 18th, 2006. The decision followed written responses offered by the nominee to questions posed during his Senate confirmation hearing, which went far beyond the bounds of the Administration’s already deeply flawed policy, actually calling into question the Armenian Genocide as a historical fact. During subsequent months tens of thousands of Armenian Americans participated in nationwide phone, letter-writing and ANCA WebFax campaigns urging the Senate to block the nomination.
On September 12th, Sen. Menendez announced that he had placed a “hold” on the Hoagland nomination, citing 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. Sen. Menendez placed a second “hold” on the nomination on January 11, 2007.
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.