WASHINGTON, DC – The four leading Democratic sponsors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106) have called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to adopt a revised schedule for the consideration of this human rights legislation by the House of Representatives, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In a letter sent today to Speaker Pelosi, lead author Adam Schiff (D-CA), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Representatives Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) stressed that, in asking for this delay, “we believe that a large majority of our colleagues want to support a resolution recognizing the genocide on the House floor and that they will do so, provided the timing is more favorable.” The letter goes on to note that they will continue to work with Speaker Pelosi’s staff and the House Foreign Affairs Committee staff to bring up the resolution “sometime later this year or in 2008.”
“Trying to advance American interests by compromising our values is a fast-track to failure in foreign policy,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “By enabling Turkey’s genocide denial, America undermines its own ability to be a positive influence in the Middle East and around the world.”
In a letter circulated today to every member of the House, Hamparian noted that, “In the days since the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the Armenian Genocide resolution (H.Res.106), the initial cautious response by many Members of Congress to Turkey’s threats has already begun to give way to a more lasting impression of disappointment, even anger, that an ally is so brazenly threatening the security of our troops.” He added that, “we are confident that, as the confusion over these threats lifts, an even stronger bipartisan majority will stand up against Turkey’s intimidation and vote to adopt this human rights resolution on its merits.”
The letter also noted that Armenian Americans remain deeply appreciative of the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, chief authors Adam Schiff and George Radanovich (R-CA), Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), and leading advocates Brad Sherman, Ed Royce (R-CA), Anna Eshoo, and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), all of whom are working with their colleagues on a bipartisan basis to put America on the right side of this human rights issue.
The full text of the ANCA letter is provided below.
October 25, 2007
I am writing to share our thoughts about how the ongoing consideration by the House of H.Res.106, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, has brought greater clarity to this human rights issue.
In the days and weeks since the Foreign Affairs Committee approved H.Res.106, we have seen that the initial response of caution to Turkey’s wave of threats has already begun to give way to a more lasting impression — one of disappointment, even anger, that an ally is so brazenly threatening the security of our troops. As the confusion over these threats lifts, we are confident that an even stronger bipartisan majority will stand up against Turkey’s intimidation and vote to adopt this human rights resolution on its merits.
Looking back on the contentious events of the past two weeks, three issues stand out:
1) Turkey has revealed itself to be an increasingly unreliable ally
Turkey displayed a truly remarkable willingness to disrupt U.S. military operations.
Sadly, Ankara’s new readiness to place our strategic priorities at risk was only encouraged by its success, once again, in forcing the Administration’s capitulation. As a result of our appeasement in responding to their blackmail, we can expect to see Turkey’s leaders continue to employ similar threats in connection with the full range of issues on our bilateral agenda, among them Iraq, the Kurds, Israel, Syria, Cyprus, and Iran. Their behavior is particularly abhorrent in light of the challenges that we face today in Iraq.
This disturbing episode serves as a much needed wake-up call for our State Department and Pentagon to make preparations to limit our future reliance upon Turkey by exploring alternate ways to supply and support our regional operations.
2) The real danger is compromising American moral leadership
The true danger to U.S. interests and American troops comes not from Turkey’s threats, but rather from the long-term damage to our international standing when we publicly retreat from our core values under unwarranted pressure from a foreign government.
We cannot advance our interests by compromising our values. Agreeing to a Turkish government-imposed “gag-rule” on the Armenian Genocide sets a dangerous precedent, emboldening other nations to use similar threats against America. Such a response diminishes our moral standing, making it more difficult to move international public opinion toward greater acceptance of our values and increased cooperation with our nation’s foreign policy priorities. Rest assured that Turkey will concoct another “threat” to our security whenever an Armenian Genocide resolution is considered. We would expect no less from a country where one literally faces prosecution for even speaking about the Armenian Genocide.
3) The facts of the Armenian Genocide are not in dispute
The debate over the Armenian Genocide Resolution, particularly during the nearly three hours of consideration of this measure by the Foreign Affairs Committee, was characterized by a common acceptance of the Armenian Genocide. Even those who spoke most ardently against the measure – based on a fear of Turkey’s reaction – never denied this crime.
While we remain, of course, deeply troubled by the opposition to this measure – in the view that it is always the right time for America to stand up against genocide – we do, however, take a measure of satisfaction from this progress within Congress toward a proper and accurate understanding of the history of the Armenian Genocide.
Moving forward, we are hopeful that these considerations will help inform the ongoing discussion of H.Res.106 as we continue our efforts to secure its adoption by the 110th Congress. Armenian Americans remain deeply appreciative of the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, lead authors Adam Schiff and George Radanovich, Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg, and leading advocates Brad Sherman, Ed Royce, Anna Eshoo, and Thaddeus McCotter, all of whom are working with their colleagues to put America on the right side of this human rights issue.
Thank you for your consideration of our concerns. We would, of course, be pleased to meet with you to discuss this matter in greater detail.
Aram S. Hamparian