ANCA Issues Report Card on the Bush Administration

Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW Suite 904
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Fax: (202) 775-5648
E-mail: [email protected]

March 30, 2004
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918


— Review Reveals Largely Negative Policies on Broad
Range of Issues of Concern to Armenian Americans

WASHINGTON, DC – The 2004 Armenian American Presidential Report
Card, issued today by the Armenian National Committee Of America
(ANCA), gave the George W. Bush Administration low marks for its
record of broken promises, neglect, and opposition to more than a
dozen issues of concern to Armenian American voters.

The ANCA Report Card covers fifteen broad policy areas, beginning
with the President’s broken campaign pledge to recognize the
Armenian Genocide, and extending through more than three years of
policy toward Armenia, the Caucasus, and the surrounding region.
While highlighting certain areas in which the Bush Administration
has taken positive steps, the Report Card, on balance, reveals an
Administration that has fallen far short of the Armenian American
community’s expectations.

“Armenian Americans were profoundly disappointed by President
Bush’s decision – only three months after taking office – to
abandon his campaign pledge to properly recognize the Armenian
Genocide,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian. “Since then, sadly,
the record shows that the President has broken other commitments to
our community – most notably to maintain parity in U.S. military
aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan – and has actively opposed key issues
of concern to Armenian Americans.”

The Armenian American Presidential Report Card is provided below:

1) Broken campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide

Almost immediately after taking office, President Bush abandoned
his campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide. This
promise, which he made in February of 2000 as Texas Governor, was
widely distributed among Armenian Americans prior to the hotly
contested Michigan primary. It read, in part, as follows:

“The twentieth century was marred by wars of
unimaginable brutality, mass murder and genocide.
History records that the Armenians were the first
people of the last century to have endured these
cruelties. The Armenians were subjected to a
genocidal campaign that defies comprehension and
commands all decent people to remember and
acknowledge the facts and lessons of an awful
crime in a century of bloody crimes against
humanity. If elected President, I would ensure
that our nation properly recognizes the tragic
suffering of the Armenian people.”

Rather than honor this promise, the President has, in his annual
April 24th statements, used evasive and euphemistic terminology to
avoid describing Ottoman Turkey’s systematic and deliberate
destruction of the Armenian people by its proper name – the
Armenian Genocide.

2) Opposition to the Congressional Genocide Resolution

The Bush Administration is actively blocking the adoption of the
Genocide Resolution in both the House and Senate. This legislation
(S.Res.164 and H.Res.193) specifically cites the Armenian Genocide
and formally commemorates the 15th anniversary of United States
implementation of the U.N. Genocide Convention. The Genocide
Resolution is supported by a broad based coalition of over one
hundred organizations, including American Values, the NAACP,
National Council of Churches, Sons of Italy, International Campaign
for Tibet, National Council of La Raza, and the Union of Orthodox

3) Failure to condemn Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide

The Bush Administration has failed to condemn Turkey’s recent
escalation of its campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide. Notably,
the Administration has remained silent in the face of the decree
issued in April of 2003 by Turkey’s Education Minister, Huseyin
Celik, requiring that all students in Turkey’s schools be
instructed in the denial of the Armenian Genocide.

The State Department’s 2003 human rights report on Turkey uses the
historically inaccurate and highly offensive phrase “alleged
genocide” to mischaracterize the Armenian Genocide. In addition,
despite repeated protests, the Bush Administration’s State
Department continues to host a website on Armenian history that
fails to make even a single mention of the Genocide.

4) The Waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act

The Bush Administration, in 2001, aggressively pressured Congress
into granting the President the authority to waive Section 907, a
provision of law that bars aid to the government of Azerbaijan
until it lifts its blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.
President Bush has subsequently used this authority to provide
direct aid, including military assistance, to the government of
Azerbaijan, despite their continued violation of the provisions of
this law.

5) Reduction in aid to Armenia

In the face of the devastating, multi-billion dollar impact of the
Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades on the Armenian economy,
President Bush has, in each of the past three years, proposed to
Congress that humanitarian and developmental aid to Armenia be

6) Abandonment of the Military Aid Parity Agreement

The Bush Administration abandoned its November 2001 agreement with
Congress and the Armenian American community to maintain even
levels of military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan. Instead, the
Administration, in its fiscal year 2005 foreign aid bill, proposes
sending four times more Foreign Military Financing to Azerbaijan
($8 million) than to Armenia ($2 million). This action tilts the
military balance in favor of Azerbaijan, rewards Azerbaijan’s
increasingly violent threats of renewed aggression, and undermines
the role of the U.S. as an impartial mediator of the Nagorno
Karabagh talks.

7) Mistaken Listing of Armenia as a Terrorist Country

The Bush Administration, through Attorney General John Ashcroft,
sought, unsuccessfully, in December of 2002 to place Armenia on an
Immigration and Naturalization Service watch list for terrorist
countries. This obvious error was reversed only after a nation-
wide protest campaign. Neither the White House nor the Department
of Justice has apologized for the offense caused by this mistake.

8) Neglect of U.S.-Armenia relations

While the Bush Administration has maintained a formal dialogue with
Armenia on economic issues through the bi-annual meetings of the
U.S.-Armenia Task Force, it has, as a matter of substance, failed
to take any meaningful action to materially promote U.S.-Armenia
economic ties. Specifically, the Administration has not provided
leadership on legislation, spearheaded by Congressional Republicans
and currently before Congress, to grant Armenia permanent normal
trade relations (PNTR) status. Nor has the Administration
initiated any steps toward the negotiation of a Tax Treaty, Social
Security Agreement, Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, or
other bilateral agreements to foster increased U.S.-Armenia
commercial relations.

The President neither visited Armenia nor did he invite the
President of Armenia to visit the United States.

9) Failure to maintain a balanced policy on Nagorno Karabagh

The Bush Administration, to its credit, took an early initiative to
help resolve the Nagorno Karabagh issue in the form of the Key West
summit meeting in 2001 between Secretary of State Powell and the
presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. After Azerbaijan’s failure
to honor its Key West commitments, however, the Administration
failed to hold Azerbaijan accountable for unilaterally stalling the
Nagorno Karabagh peace process.

10) Increased grants, loans and military transfers to Turkey

The Bush Administration has effectively abandoned America’s
responsibility to link aid, loans, and arms transfers to Turkey’s
adherence to basic standards for human rights and international
conduct. The most notable example was the $8 billion loan package
provided to Turkey in 2003 despite Turkey’s refusal to allow U.S.
forces to open a northern front during the war in Iraq.

11) Taxpayer financing of the Baku-Ceyhan bypass of Armenia

The Bush Administration is supporting American taxpayer subsidies
for the politically motivated Baku-Ceyhan pipeline route that, at
the insistence of Turkey and Azerbaijan, bypasses Armenia.

12 Refusal to pressure Turkey and Azerbaijan to end their

The Bush Administration has not forcefully condemned the Turkish
and Azerbaijani blockades as clear violations of international law,
nor, outside of occasional public statements, has it taken any
meaningful steps to pressure the Turkish or Azerbaijani governments
to end their illegal border closures.

13) Lobbying for Turkish membership in the European Union

The Bush Administration has aggressively pressured European
governments to accept Turkey into the European Union, despite
Turkey’s consistent failure to meet European conditions for
membership, on issues ranging from the blockade of Armenia and the
Armenian Genocide to the occupation of Cyprus and human rights.

14) Down-grading relations with the Armenian American community

Breaking with the tradition of the last several Administrations,
the Bush White House failed to reach out in any meaningful way to
our nation’s one and a half million citizens of Armenian heritage.
While the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council
maintained their long-standing policy-level dialogue with the
Armenian American community leadership, the White House itself
essentially neglected Armenian Americans as a political
constituency. Perhaps the most telling example of this is that,
during the course of the past three years, despite repeated
requests, the President did not hold any community-wide meetings
with the leadership of the Armenian American community, nor did his
Secretary of State or National Security Advisor.

15) Armenian American appointments

The President appointed Joe Bogosian to an important Deputy
Assistant Secretary position at the Commerce Department, John
Jamian to a key maritime position in the Department of
Transportation, and Samuel Der-Yeghiayan as a Federal Judge in the
Northern District of Illinois.