WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. once again pledged that his administration would leverage U.S. power to restore Armenian sovereignty over Artsakh and reunify Armenian lands, during a reception hosted by Armenian community leaders and philanthropists Mike and Evelina Sarian in Southern California this week, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“One of the things that I won’t forget as President of the United States is the struggle of Armenians for sovereignty, for dignity, for their right to reunify their country, including Artsakh, which has been since 200 BC, has been the birthplace of the Armenian people,” stated RFK, Jr. “And the fact that the world didn’t notice this rich ethnic cleansing – this genocide – is really striking to me. But it’s something that I intend to talk about and to continue talking about use my power as President of the United States, to leverage the cooperation of nations within that region, to do everything I can to peacefully reunite Armenia.”
The full video of RFK, Jr.’s remarks, provided by Alpha News Agency, is available below.
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian welcomed the candidate’s statement and stressed the importance of elevating Artsakh’s genocidal plight and Turkey/Azerbaijan’s existential threat to Armenian survival to the presidential stage. “RFK Jr’s principled position meaningfully elevates the place of Armenian issues upon the national electoral stage – a potent, potentially election altering, challenge to Joe Biden and Donald Trump – both guilty of arming genocidal Azerbaijan and abandoning democratic Artsakh,” stated Hamparian. “His appeal to nearly two million Armenian Americans takes place in the context of our community’s profound dissatisfaction – decades in the making – with the relentless lies and anti-Armenian betrayals of the foreign policy establishments of Democratic and Republican administrations,” continued Hamparian. These statements show “there is a growing appreciation among top electoral strategists for both the political potency of Armenian issues and the potentially pivotal role of Armenian American votes in a closely contested 2024 presidential race,” concluded Hamparian.
Growing up in Watertown, MA, RFK, Jr. was raised among Armenian Americans, who had been touched by genocide. “I got used to Armenian food, and I got used to hearing the stories about the tragedy, the personal tragedy that almost everybody that I met in Watertown was a refugee from, and that our country had been a place of safety,” stated Kennedy to a capacity Armenian American audience, responding to questions for over an hour.
Joining event hosts Mike and Evelina Sarian in offering remarks during the political reception was His Eminence Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. In questions from the audience, Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights Board Member Armen Hovannisian and the Alpha News Agency brought sharp focus to the right to return of the Artsakh people to their indigenous homes and the imperative of changing a failed U.S. policy which aided and abetted genocide.
This was not RFK, Jr.’s first reference to the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh and the importance of sanctions to hold Azerbaijan accountable for their crimes. Last week, Kennedy issued a 2.5-minute video statement titled “RFK Jr. On How to Avert War in Armenia,” where the presidential candidate stressed, “the U.S. government needs to organize and mobilize the global community to take action to ensure the safe return of Armenians to Artsakh and to defend their right to self-determination. This is a situation where peaceful sanctions could actually work. The U.S. still has leverage in that region, and it can use that power to mobilize all of the nations in that region to reverse this humanitarian tragedy. We should also seek the removal of the blockades in Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan. Armenia is a landlocked nation, and it needs access to ports and to the surrounding countries.”
RFK Jr. is the latest 2024 U.S. presidential candidate to outline his position on Armenian American concerns dealing with Artsakh and Armenia. Last month, Republican presidential candidates Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley joined with Vivek Ramaswamy in forcefully condemning Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of Artsakh at The FAMiLY Leader Thanksgiving candidate forum in Iowa. The high-profile program was co-sponsored by the 120,000 Reasons Coalition, supported by the ANCA, united in exerting pressure on the White House, Congress, and the 2024 Presidential candidates to break U.S. official silence on Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian aggression.
Ramaswamy has been especially outspoken in spotlighting Azerbaijan’s forced displacement of Artsakh’s Armenians on the campaign trail, discussing the matter with Tucker Carlson and Piers Morgan, and attending a 120,000 Reasons protest organized by the ANCA Eastern Region and AYF Eastern Region on the eve of the GOP presidential candidates’ debate in Miami, Florida. He recently attended an Armenian reception at Armenian Estates, in Genoa Township, OH, hosted by Tigran and Viola Safaryan and Steve and Erna Atikian. Longtime ANC-Ohio leader David Krikorian introduced Ramaswamy at the event, which was attended by Armenian Americans from across the Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland areas.