WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), in a letter to the Armenian National Committee of Nevada (ANC-NV), reported that he is “extremely concerned” by the reluctance of Richard Hoagland, the Administration’s nominee to serve as the next ambassador to Armenia, to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
Senator Reid’s public stand follows the August 2nd announcement by Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) that he will vote against the Hoagland nomination because of the nominee’s refusal to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide as a “genocide.” Sen. Coleman serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“The opposition of Senator Norm Coleman and concerns raised by Harry Reid – the Senate’s Democratic Leader – reflect the growing bipartisan opposition to the approval of a U.S. envoy to Yerevan who refuses to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We continue to work in communities around the nation to explain to Senators the damage to U.S-Armenia relations – and, more broadly, to America’s standing on genocide prevention efforts worldwide – that will be done by approving a nominee that has actually denied the genocidal intent of the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide.”
Responding to grassroots concerns raised by Nevada’s growing and increasingly active Armenian American community, Senator Reid noted that this refusal is “particularly troubling in light of the State Department’s dismissal of the last Ambassador to Armenia, John M. Evans following comments he made during a February 2005 tour of Armenian-American communities in which he recognized the Armenian Genocide. As you may know, the State Department has offered no explanation for Evans’ dismissal.”
As reported by the Associated Press, Senator Coleman has explained, “As someone of the Jewish faith, I bring a heightened sensitivity to the reality of genocide and mass murder, and the importance of recognizing it for what it is. I was brought up believing you never forget the Holocaust, never forget what happened. And I could not imagine how our ambassador to Israel could have any effectiveness if he couldn’t recognize the Holocaust.”
On August 1st, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee delayed consideration of Ambassador Hoagland’s nomination, following a request by the Committee’s Ranking Democrat Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA). Also voicing support for the delay were Senators George Allen (R-VA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). The Committee is set to consider the matter during its regular business meeting on September 7th.
To date, more than half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Senators George Allen, Joseph Biden, Barbara Boxer, Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Russell Feingold (D-WI), John Kerry and Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), have contacted Secretary Rice or questioned Ambassador-designate Hoagland directly regarding the Armenian Genocide. Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Jack Reed (D-RI), along with over sixty members of the U.S. House have also expressed serious concerns to the State Department on this matter.
For a comprehensive overview of documents regarding the firing of Ambassador Evans and the Hoagland controversy, visit: