ANCA Endorses Kerry for President

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]

July 25, 2004
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918


— Cites Senator Kerry’s Long Record of Support on
Armenian American Issues, President Bush’s Retreat
from his Pledge to Recognize the Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON, DC – In a move expected to impact electoral outcomes in
key presidential election swing states this November, the Armenian
National Committee of America (ANCA), the nation’s grassroots
Armenian American organization, today announced its endorsement of
the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

“For Armenian Americans, the clear choice is John Kerry,” said ANCA
Chairman Ken Hachikian. “Senator Kerry has been a friend of the
Armenian American community for over twenty years, with a proven
track record of fighting hard for issues of concern to Armenian
Americans across the nation. He faces an incumbent, President
Bush, whose record on Armenian issues has grown progressively more
disappointing throughout his tenure in the White House, beginning
with his broken campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide,
including his Administration’s attempt to end military aid parity
between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and up until this week, with his
Administration’s strident attacks on legislation recognizing the
Armenian Genocide.”

John Kerry welcomed the ANCA endorsement, stating that, “John
Edwards and I would like to thank the ANCA for its endorsement. We
are looking forward to working with all Armenian Americans to
create a stronger America, more respected in the world.”

“We call upon Armenian Americans to compare the respective records
of Senator Kerry and President Bush, to weigh the importance of
their ballot for the future of U.S.-Armenian relations, and to cast
their vote for the Kerry-Edwards ticket on November 2nd,” added

The ANCA endorsement follows closely in the wake of the Bush
Administration’s forceful attack on the Schiff Amendment, a
provision adopted last week by the U.S. House that prevents Turkey
from using U.S. foreign aid to lobby against the Genocide
Resolution. Armenian Americans, particularly those in key swing
states such as Pennslyvania, Ohio, and Florida, are positioned to
play a decisive role in what looks, by all accounts, to be a hotly
contested election.

ANCA’s Outreach to the White House and Republican Leaders
—————————————— ———————-

The ANCA has, on several occasions over the past four years,
specifically asked for a meeting between President Bush and the
Armenian American community leadership. These formal requests,
which never received a response, were supported by a series of ANCA
and community-wide letters outlining the views and disappointments
of Armenian Americans on specific issues, ranging from the Armenian
Genocide to foreign aid policy.

In April of this year, the ANCA sent detailed letters to the
Chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign, Marc Racicot, and the
Congressional Republican leadership voicing disappointment over the
Bush Administration’s record on Armenian issues, and expressing
frustration with the lack of responsiveness by the White House to
the concerns of the Armenian American community. The ANCA’s
concerns were grouped, in this letter, into three broad categories:
1) unfulfilled commitments, 2) opposition to community concerns,
and 3) failure to prioritize Armenian issues.

The Senate and House letters, addressed to House Speaker Dennis
Hastert (R-IL) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN),
highlighted the powerful leadership demonstrated by a great many
Republicans on Armenian issues, notably by Armenian Caucus Co-
Chairman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Genocide Resolution author George
Radanovich (R-CA), and Senators such as Mitch McConnell (R-KY),
John Ensign (R-NV), George Allen (R-VA), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), and
many others. These letters included more than a dozen specific
recommendations by the ANCA about how the Congressional leadership
could encourage the White House to improve its standing among
Armenian American voters.

Neither the President nor his campaign responded to the ANCA’s
appeal for their intervention to help establish a constructive
dialogue between the Administration and the Armenian American

For additional information on the ANCA’s outreach to Republican
leaders concerning the Bush Administration’s record on Armenian
issues, visit:

ANCA Backs Up Endorsement by Calling
for Greater Grassroots Activism
———————————————— —————-

Along with its Presidential endorsement, the ANCA reminded Armenian
Americans that their ability to impact policy-level decision-making
depends, first and foremost, on the continued expansion of advocacy
efforts at all levels of government. The ANCA’s detailed
Congressional endorsements, which will be announced later this
year, will represent an important element of this process by
providing Armenian American voters with the information they need
to solidify the strong support our community enjoys in Congress.

“The challenge before the Armenian American community, as in years
past, remains growing our activism and strengthening our voice in
the public policy debates and within the foreign policy community,”
said Hachikian. “We call upon Armenian Americans to meet this
challenge by increasing our engagement with the Executive Branch
and providing the strongest possible support for our friends in the
U.S. House and Senate on November 2nd and throughout the 109th

The Kerry Record
——————————————- ———————

During his long tenure in the US House and Senate, Senator Kerry
has consistently been a leading advocate of issues of concern to
Armenian Americans. As a U.S. Senator, Kerry has forcefully fought
for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and is currently a
cosponsor of the Genocide Resolution, S.Res.164. In 1990, Senator
Kerry voted on the Senate floor for Senator Bob Dole’s (R-KS)
Genocide Resolution.

The Massachusetts Senator has been a vocal and effective champion
of stronger U.S.-Armenia relations and has consistently backed
legislative initiative to increase aid and expand trade with
Armenia. He is currently a cosponsor of legislation, S.1557, which
would grant Armenia permanent normal trade relations status.

Senator Kerry has spearheaded a number of initiatives to lift the
Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades. In 1991, he was the lead sponsor
of legislation, which was later enacted as Section 907 of the
Freedom Support Act, restricting U.S. aid to the government of
Azerbaijan until its blockades of Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh
are lifted. He also worked for the adoption of the Humanitarian Aid
Corridor Act, which called for US aid to Turkey to be cut off
unless Turkey lifted its blockade of Armenia. As recently as this
January, Senator Kerry formally called on President Bush to press
the visiting Prime Minister of Turkey to lift his nation’s illegal
blockade of Armenia.

The Bush Record
——————————————- ———————

The full text of the Armenian American Presidential Report Card on
the Administration of George W. Bush 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

As recently as July 16th of this year, the Bush Administration
reiterated its opposition to legislation recognizing the Armenian
Genocide. In response the adoption by the U.S. House of the Schiff
Amendment, which blocks Turkey from using U.S. aid to lobby against
the Genocide Resolution, the Administration pressed Congressional
leaders to prevent the enactment of any provision recognizing the
Armenian Genocide.

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 has he invited 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

To the Administration’s credit, 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.