U.S. Ambassador To Armenia To Resign In September


RIA Novosti, Russia
Aug. 22, 2006

YEREVAN, August 22 (RIA Novosti) – America’s ambassador to Armenia
announced Tuesday he would be leaving his post in September, after
only two years on the job.

John Evans, who was sworn in as ambassador in August 2004, courted
controversy in 2004 and 2005 for public comments he made on the 1915
Ottoman Empire’s massacre of ethnic Armenians, which the United States
neither denies nor officially recognizes as genocide.

Evans, who was publicly rebuked by the State Department, said: "The
Armenian Genocide was the first genocide of the twentieth century."

The ambassador later said he was expressing his personal viewpoint
and not the position of the United States government.

While the U.S. State Department has said the ambassador’s resignation
was not related to his comments, some members of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee have expressed doubt.

Last month, Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) sent
separate letters to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressing
concern that the ambassador was fired for articulating a view of the
Armenian massacre not in keeping with administration policy.

The American-Armenian community has also expressed misgivings.

Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny said:
"We have a fundamental policy disagreement with the administration,
and we will not stop work until the U.S. unequivocally affirms the
Armenian genocide."

On May 23, U.S. President George Bush named Richard Hoagland to
replace Evans as American ambassador to Yerevan. But the Senate’s
Foreign Relations Committee has postponed considering his candidacy
until September.

Testifying before a committee meeting in July, Hoagland, a career
Foreign Service officer and the current U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan,
said: "The State Department has not directed me to make or avoid
specific statements about the tragic events that occurred at the end
of the Ottoman Empire."

"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," he said.