WASHINGTON, DC – In a July 25th speech on the House floor, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) called on the U.S. Senate to block the nomination of Richard Hoagland to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In his remarks, the New Jersey legislator outlined the reasons for his opposition, notably Ambassador-designate Hoagland’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and his evasiveness and lack of responsiveness to Senate inquiries. He also highlighted the failure of the Administration to respond honestly to communications it held with the Turkish government concerning the firing of current U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans over his February 2005 remarks affirming the Armenian Genocide.
Congressman Pallone closed his speech by noting his “fear that sending an ambassador to Yerevan who denies the Armenian genocide would represent a tragic escalation in the Bush administration’s ignorance and support in Turkey’s campaign of genocide denial. The State Department has reported to Senate offices that they expect Ambassador Designate Hoagland to be confirmed during a business meeting early next week. I would urge the Senate to block his nomination until this administration recognizes the Armenian genocide.”
The full text of Congressman Pallone’s speech is provided below.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
July 25, 2006
AMBASSADOR NOMINEE RICHARD HOAGLAND
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to express my concerns with the nomination of Richard Hoagland as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia . Many questions remain regarding U.S. policy on the Armenian genocide, and they remain unanswered. Key Senate Foreign Relations Committee members continue to have serious misgivings about the nomination.
Two weeks ago, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considered Mr. Hoagland’s nomination. During the hearing, Mr. Hoagland failed to adequately respond to the questions asked by the Senators, including not clarifying the U.S.’s policy in the denial of the Armenian genocide. In many instances, he did not respond to specific Senate inquires. He diverted his answers by responding with what seemed like prepared talking points, and went to great lengths to avoid using the term genocide.
Additionally, in response to a written inquiry from Senator John Kerry concerning Turkey’s criminal prosecution of journalists for writing about the Armenian genocide, Mr. Hoagland referred to these writings as allegations.
Mr. Speaker, the U.S. has historically taken a leadership role in preventing genocide and human rights violations, but the Bush administration continues to play word games by not calling evil by its proper name. Instead, they refer to the mass killings of 1.5 million Armenians as tragic events. This term cannot be substituted for genocide. The two words are simply not synonymous.
Mr. Speaker, there are historical documents that cannot be refuted, yet somehow the Administration continues to ignore the truth in fear of offending another government.
The Bush administration has not offered a meaningful explanation of its reasons for firing the current U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans. In fact, the State Department’s assertion that it did not receive any communications from the Turkish Government concerning Ambassador Evans’ February 2005 affirmation of the Armenian genocide is simply not credible.
Official Department of Justice filings by the Turkish Government’s registered foreign agent, the Livingston Group, document that there are at least four different occasions of communications with State Department officials following Ambassador Evans’ remarks affirming the Armenian genocide. Still, the State Department refutes these claims.
Mr. Speaker, this lack of honesty has been an all too common practice of the Bush administration. The American people and this Congress deserve a full and truthful account of the role of the Turkish Government in denying the Armenian genocide. Our Nation’s response to genocide should not be denigrated to a level acceptable to the Turkish Government. It is about time the Bush administration started dictating a policy for Americans and not for a foreign government.
Mr. Speaker, I fear that sending an ambassador to Yerevan who denies the Armenian genocide would represent a tragic escalation in the Bush administration’s ignorance and support in Turkey’s campaign of genocide denial. The State Department has reported to Senate offices that they expect Ambassador Designate Hoagland to be confirmed during a business meeting early next week. I would urge the Senate to block his nomination until this administration recognizes the Armenian genocide.