WASHINGTON, DC – In yet another troubling development concerning the controversial nomination of Richard Hoagland to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Department of Justice records have revealed that the State Department has misled the U.S. Senate regarding its communications with the Turkish government concerning the February 2005 public affirmation of the Armenian Genocide by U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In a letter, dated June 28, 2005 written on behalf of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), the Ranking Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department denied that the Turkish government had even approached the Administration on this issue. However, official Foreign Agent Registration filings by the Turkish government’s registered foreign agent, the Livingston Group, document that, in the days following Ambassador Evans’ February 19, 2005 remarks, one of Turkey’s agents communicated on at least four different occasions with State Department officials concerning the envoy’s statement and his subsequent retraction.
“With each new revelation, we see more clearly the corrosive impact that the Administration’s complicity in Turkey’s denial is having on our own core values as Americans,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian. “This latest failed attempt by the State Department to mislead the Senate adds to the many compelling reasons to block the confirmation of a new Ambassador to Armenia.”
Consistent with the pattern of unresponsiveness that has come to characterize the Administration’s actions on the Hoagland nomination, the only answer the State Department chose to provide in response to Senator Biden’s four questions was a misleading one. His other inquiries – including an official request for an explanation of why Ambassador Evans was being replaced prematurely – remain unanswered.
On June 23rd, as part of Ambassador Richard Hoagland’s confirmation process to replace Amb. Evans in Yerevan, Senator Biden wrote a letter asking Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a series of questions including the following: “Has the State Department received any communication – written, electronic, or spoken – from the Turkish Government concerning Ambassador Evans?”
Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Jeffrey T. Bergner responded on behalf of Secretary Rice with the following assertion: “Please be assured that allegations that the U.S. is removing Ambassador Evans under pressure from the Government of Turkey are simply untrue. The Government of Turkey has not approached the Administration on this issue, and the United States and Turkey engaged in no diplomatic exchanges related to this matter.”
However, Justice Department filings by the Livingston Group reveal that a day after Amb. Evans’ statements on the Armenian Genocide were publicized in an ANCA-San Francisco press release dated February 24, 2005, a Turkish agent communicated with the State Department concerning his statements. On February 28, 2005, one business day after the agent’s first phone call, Ambassador Evans issued his first public retraction – noting that his mention of the Armenian Genocide was made in a private capacity. Later that same day, the Livingston Group reported three additional calls between one of Turkey’s agents and State Department officials including the Deputy Chief of Mission-designate at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara to discuss Ambassador Evans’ retraction. The very next day on March 1, 2005, Ambassador Evans issued a public correction of his retraction – removing entirely any mention of the Armenian Genocide.
In addition to the Justice Department filings, several Turkish press accounts reported that officials of the Government of Turkey communicated their concerns to the State Department regarding statements made by Ambassador Evans:
1) Turkish Press
On March 3, 2005, Turkish Press reported that, “Turkey’s Ambassador in Washington Faruk Logoglu reacted to this. Ambassador Logoglu reminded his interlocutors in the State Department that the United States did not recognize ‘Armenian genocide’ noting the expression in Evans’ apology was unacceptable. Justifying Turkey’s warning, US State Department made Evans to issue a ‘correction’ for the apology.” (“Evans Had to Correct His Statement Again After Using ’Genocide’ in His Apology,” Turkish Press, March 3, 2005)
2) Anadolu News Agency
On March 4, 2005, the Anadolu News Agency reported that, “The Turkish ambassador to Washington Faruk Logoglu reacted to this message and the Washington administration approved Turkey’s demand and made Evans correct the message of apology. Logoglu reminded the US State Department that the US does not recognize the Armenian genocide, but the term was used in the message of apology of the US Yerevan Ambassador. Logoglu noted that a term that is not accepted by USA could not be used in a statement of policy.” (“Double Genocide Correction from US Yerevan Ambassador,” Anadolu News Agency, March 04, 2005)
3) Turkish Daily News
On May 27, 2006, Turkish Daily News reported that, “‘After his remarks last year that caused reaction at the State Department and by Turkey, Evans was given a second chance, but he continued to deviate from the official U.S. policy, working almost as a part of Armenian groups that have a specific agenda,’ one U.S. analyst familiar with the matter said on Thursday. ‘As a result he was recalled.'” (“US Envoy Fired Over ‘Genocide’ Claims,” Turkish Daily News, May 27, 2006)
The ANCA has circulated relevant sections of the Justice Department FARA filings to Congressional offices.