Local Armenians lobby in D.C.

Los Angeles Daily News, CA
April 20 2004

Local Armenians lobby in D.C.

By Lisa Friedman
Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — San Fernando Valley-area Armenian-Americans met Monday
in Washington, D.C., to urge increased foreign assistance for their
homeland, better trade relations and an official U.S. recognition,
once and for all, of the Armenian genocide.

Meeting as part of the Armenian National Assembly’s two-day
conference, members were buoyed by a State Department official who
announced the Bush administration’s support of permanent normal trade
relations with Armenia.

At the same time, members acknowledged that with Turkey on the front
lines of the war on terror, they have little expectation of seeing
the term “Armenian genocide” in official U.S. statements anytime

“I’m sure President Bush will issue a statement on the anniversary
about ‘those dark days’ or ‘those massacres,”‘ said Osheen Keshishian
of Van Nuys, who publishes the Armenian Observer, an English-language
weekly based in Hollywood.

But Keshishian, who also teaches at Glendale Community College, said
despite political realities, the issue remains a burning one for
Armenians in the United States. “The point is, justice has to
prevail. Truth has to prevail.”

Armenian-Americans say 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a
genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923.
Turkish officials say far fewer people died amid a multi-party

Tuluy Tanc, the minister-consular at the Turkish embassy in
Washington, D.C., called the term genocide “unfair and untrue.”

“We do not think or believe a genocide occurred in Turkey,” Tanc
said. “Events in Turkey were, during the course of a world war,
tremendously unhappy. Events took place affecting Armenians, Muslims,
Turks and all components of the Ottoman Empire.”

About 350 people attended the two-day conference also sponsored by
the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the Diocese of the Armenian
Church of America. Several of the attendees traveled from Southern
California, which is home to about 400,000 Armenian-Americans, the
largest community in the nation.