Glendale News Press: Nomination Withdrawn

Glendale News Press
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Nomination withdrawn
Hoagland, who did not cite genocide, won’t become the U.S. ambassador
to Armenia.

By Ryan Vaillancourt

GLENDALE – The White House announced Friday that its controversial
nomination of Richard Hoagland for U.S. ambassador to Armenia has been

Hoagland, the former U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan, was tapped by
President Bush last year to replace former Ambassador John Marshall
Evans after Evans was allegedly forced into early retirement in
November 2006 for publicly referring to the Armenian genocide.

After a Senate confirmation hearing last year, Hoagland came under
fire from Armenian American political organizations for not
recognizing the Armenian genocide.

Hoagland’s dismissal is being hailed as a major political coup for the
Armenian American community, which has lobbied intensely for more than
a year against his appointment, officials said.

"The most important thing is the administration will learn the
political message that in dealing with Armenian issues, they have to
be more reasonable and accommodating and work with the community,"
said Harut Sassounian, who, as publisher of the California Courier, a
Glendale-based Armenian newspaper, reported Hoagland’s imminent
dismissal in a July 19 column. "If they don’t, they’ll pay a price for
it, and in this case, Hoagland paid the price."

Evans’ 2005 comments about the genocide won him admiration from the
Armenian American community, and the American Foreign Service Assn. –
comprising current and former U.S. foreign service officers – picked
Evans to receive its "constructive dissent" award.

But the State Department, which has not recognized the 1915 killings
of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide, ordered Evans to issue a
retraction of his statements, and the American Foreign Service
Assn. revoked the constructive dissent award on a technicality, Evans
said during a March appearance on the Larry Zarian Forum in Glendale.

Despite the retraction, Evans was forced by the State Department into
early retirement after a career in foreign service, he said.

Hoagland had already been chosen as Evans’ successor in June, but his
status in Washington has been in limbo for more than a year, due in
large part to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, who twice placed a hold on
Hoagland’s nomination.

A hold is a rarely used parliamentary procedure that allows a senator
to delay certain appointments.

That move afforded time for lobbyists to flood congressional offices
with letters and phone calls in opposition to Hoagland’s nomination,
Sassounian said.

"Richard Hoagland’s nomination became tainted the moment he disclosed
his position denying the historical veracity of the Armenian
genocide," Andrew Kzirian, executive director of the Armenian National
Committee of America Western Region, said in a statement. "The
Armenian American community of the western United States welcomes the
administration’s decision to withdraw the nomination and sincerely
expresses gratitude to Sen. Robert Menendez for his leadership in
this regard."

Rep. Adam Schiff, whose district includes Glendale and Burbank, also
saluted the White House move.

"The president was right to withdraw Mr. Hoagland’s nomination,"
Schiff said in a statement. "I hope that the president will soon
nominate a new ambassador who will be more forthcoming in discussing
the Armenian genocide."

White House officials said Hoagland submitted a letter of withdrawal
this week to the president, which the president "accepted."

"The president, obviously, claims he would have been a wonderful
ambassador and appreciates his willingness to serve his country,"
White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said.