Bush bows to pressure on Armenia envoy

After a year-long confrontation, the White House bowed to pressure from the Armenian lobby, withdrawing its nomination of a career diplomat as ambassador in Yerevan, a development cheered by Armenian groups in the United States.

Bush bows to pressure on Armenia envoy
After a year-long confrontation, the White House bowed to pressure from the Armenian lobby, withdrawing its nomination of a career diplomat as ambassador in Yerevan, a development cheered by Armenian groups in the United States.

The White House's nomination of Richard Hoagland was blocked in the last Congress and the Bush administration resubmitted his name in January when the new Congress convened. But a Democrat senator, Robert Menendez, placed a hold on the nomination for the second time in January because of Hoagland's refusal to call the World War I-era killings of Armenians "genocide."

A hold is a parliamentary privilege accorded to senators that prevents a nomination from going forward to a confirmation hearing. Hoagland's predecessor, John Evans, had his tour of duty in Armenia cut short because, in a social setting, he referred to the killings as genocide.

Turkey categorically rejects "genocide" charges and says Turks and Armenians were killed in internal strife when Armenians revolted against the Ottoman rule in eastern Anatolia in hope of carving out an independent state in collaboration with the invading Russian army. Ankara has warned the US that their ties would receive a serious blow if the two resolutions pending at Senate and the House of Representatives are passed.

A California congressman, Republican Adam Schiff, supported the Bush administration's decision to withdraw Hoagland's name. "During his confirmation hearings, Mr. Hoagland continued to deny that the massacre of a million-and-a-half Armenians between 1915 and 1923 was a genocide, thereby compounding the injury done to Armenian people and, especially, the few remaining survivors of the first genocide of the 20th Century" said Schiff. "I hope the president will soon nominate a new ambassador who will be more forthcoming in discussing the Armenian genocide."

In urging the administration to submit another candidate, Menendez said that "the State Department and the Bush administration are just flat-out wrong in their refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide. It is well past time to drop the euphemisms, the wink-wink, nod-nod brand of diplomacy that overlooks heinous atrocities around the world."

He said Friday the Bush administration did a disservice to the Armenian people and Armenian-Americans when it removed Evans "simply because he recognized the Armenian genocide." He added: "I hope that our next nominee will bring a different understanding to this issue."

Armenian groups in the US welcomed the withdrawal of Hoagland's nomination. The Armenian National Committee of America's (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian said: "We are gratified to see that the administration has finally come to recognize what the ANCA and the Armenian American community have understood for more than a year -- that Dick Hoagland -- through his own words and actions -- disqualified himself as an effective representative of either American values or US interests as US ambassador to Armenia."

Today's Zaman, AP
Last Mod: 07 Ağustos 2007, 01:07
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