Armenians Urge Senate to Block Hoagland Nomination

7/21/2006 11:57:00 PM

WASHINGTON, DC - Citing U.S. Ambassador-designate Richard Hoagland's denial of the Armenian Genocide and his contradictory responses to Senate inquiries - both against the background of the continued failure of the Administration to offer a meaningful and forthright explanation of its reasons for firing the current U.S. Ambassador, John Evans - the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today issued a statement formally opposing Hoagland's nomination to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia.

A July 16th policy editorial published by the Los Angeles Times called on the U.S. Senate to block Ambassador-designate Hoagland's nomination until he properly recognizes the Armenian Genocide. The strongly worded piece urged the Bush administration to "explain forthrightly - not just to Armenian Americans but to all Americans who believe in calling evil by its proper name - why U.S. policy is being dictated by Ankara nationalists."

The full text of the ANCA Statement is provided below.

ANCA Statement on Richard Hoagland’s Nomination for U.S. Ambassador to Armenia

Ambassador-designate Richard Hoagland has disqualified himself as a candidate to serve as our nation's ambassador to the Republic of Armenia.

During the course of his Senate confirmation process, Ambassador-designate Richard Hoagland has taken a number of actions that demonstrate that he cannot effectively represent U.S. interests and American values, among them:

  1. Asserting that the Armenian Genocide does not qualify as an instance of genocide
  2. Providing contradictory statements or failing to respond to U.S. Senate inquiries
  3. Abandoning America's leadership on genocide prevention:

  1. Asserting that the Armenian Genocide does not qualify as an instance of genocide

    Ambassador-designate Hoagland has disqualified himself as the next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia by engaging in denial of the Armenian Genocide.

    Consistent with the denials issued by the Turkish government, Ambassador Hoagland argues that the Armenian Genocide does not qualify as an instance of genocide because of the absence, on the part of the perpetrator, of a "specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part," the victim group.

    In a July 14th response to a written question from Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) concerning why the U.S. does not consider the Armenian Genocide an instance of genocide, Ambassador-designate Hoagland selectively cited one of the five "understandings" expressed by the U.S. at the time of the U.S. ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, namely that, "genocidal intent meant a 'specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part,' the group as such."

    Additionally, in a dramatic retreat to the more blatant forms of denial typical of the State Department's opposition to Armenian Genocide recognition during the 1980s, Ambassador-designate Hoagland referred to statements on the Armenian Genocide as allegations. In a response to a written inquiry from Senator John Kerry (D-MA) concerning Turkey’s criminal prosecution of journalists for writing about the Armenian Genocide, Ambassador-designate Hoagland characterized their factual affirmations of the Armenian Genocide as simply allegations.

    As Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) stated during Ambassador-designate Hoagland's confirmation hearing, "I am not sure how we can continue to have Ambassadors to Armenia who can be effective, unless they give recognition to the Genocide." Sadly, Ambassador-designate Hoagland has gone far beyond the traditional Administration practice of failing to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide. He has, instead, placed himself firmly into the camp of the Turkish government by publicly denying the genocidal nature of this crime. His nomination, if confirmed, would represent a dramatic escalation in U.S. complicity in Turkey's campaign of denial.

  2. Providing contradictory statements or failing to respond to U.S. Senate inquiries

    Ambassador-designate Hoagland has disqualified himself as the next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia by making contradictory and inconsistent statements to the U.S. Senate regarding his views on the Armenian Genocide. In many instances, he did not respond to specific Senate inquiries.

    In responses to questions submitted by Senators Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) and John Kerry (D-MA), he denied that he had been counseled not to refer to the events of 1915 as the Armenian Genocide. Yet, in the course of responding to questioning at his confirmation hearing and to several dozen written inquiries, he went to extreme lengths to avoid using this term. Either he has misled Senators regarding the guidance he has received, or he has chosen to avoid using the term genocide on his own accord - both profoundly troubling developments that disqualify him from serving as the U.S. envoy in Yerevan.

    More broadly, Ambassador-designate Hoagland's July 14th claim that the Armenian Genocide does not meet the U.S. government's definition of genocide stands in stark contrast to his repeated assertions to U.S. Senators that the Administration does not deny the events of 1915:

    * In response to a question about U.S. policy on the Armenian Genocide from Senator Allen (R-VA) during the June 28th confirmation hearing, Ambassador-designate Hoagland asserted that, "No one in this administration has ever denied the events beginning in the 20th century at the end of the Ottoman Empire that befell the Armenian nation and people."

    * In response to a question from Senator Coleman (R-MN) regarding whether Ambassador-designate Hoagland agreed with then-Governor Bush's statements affirming the Armenian Genocide, he stated: "I fully agree that the events that occurred on 1915 and following were of historic proportion. As I said well-documented, horrific and horrifying and as we heard from Senator Sarbanes in his statement early on -- hundreds of valleys devastated no family untouched. It was historic. It was a tragedy. Everyone agrees with that."

    * In response to a written inquiry from Senator John Kerry (D-MA) asking if he disputed a series of nine facts about the Armenian Genocide, Ambassador-designate Hoagland did not dispute that: "The atrocities conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923 … resulted in the elimination of the more than 2,500-year presence of Armenians in their historic homeland."

    * In response to subsequent questions from Senator Kerry asking about the Administration’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of its non-recognition, Ambassador-designate Hoagland stated that, "the Administration does not deny the tragic events that occurred in the final years of the Ottoman Empire," and that: "the Administration does recognize the massacre or forced exile of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire."

  3. Abandoning America's leadership on genocide prevention

Ambassador-designate Hoagland has additionally disqualified himself as the next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia by failing to grasp the fundamental need for U.S. moral leadership in condemning and preventing genocide.

In response to a question from Senator Kerry, Ambassador-designate Hoagland stated that, "The U.S. believes that the question of how to characterize these horrific events is of such enormous human significance that it should not be determined on the basis of politics, but through heartfelt introspection among academics, civic leaders, and societies."

Ambassador-designate Hoagland's formulation could not be more deeply flawed. It is precisely because of the enormity of the Armenian Genocide that the U.S. should address this crime with absolute moral and historical clarity. By delegating the characterization of the Armenian Genocide to a dialogue between the unrepentant perpetrators of Genocide and the survivors and descendants of those who perished, the Ambassador-designate argues for effectively reducing our nation's response to genocide to the level acceptable to the Turkish government. Our nation's human rights policy should never be held hostage by a foreign country - particularly one that is regularly cited as among the world's worst human rights abusers.

For these reasons, we respectfully request that the U.S. Senate not move forward with Ambassador Hoagland’s nomination.

Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918

Cites Nominee's Genocide Denial; Inconsistent and Contradictory

Statements to Senate Panel
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Fax: (202) 775-5648
Email: anca@anca.org