BUSH’S AMBASSADOR DESIGNATE TO YEREVAN PERSISTS IN NOT USING ‘G-WORD’
Turkish Daily News
July 14 2008
ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama who promised to recognize
the World War I era killings of the Armenians at the hands of the
Ottamans as genocide has shown one more time how he is committed to
his pledge. He has not missed the opportunity to inquire the current
administration’s stance on the issue at the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee’s ongoing review of the nomination of Marie Yovanovitch as
ambassador to Yerevan.
Yovanovitch appeared as a witness before the Committee on June
19. Obama, who did not attend the hearing due to his electoral
campaign, submitted four written question. The questions and answers
were published in the website of the Armenian National Committee of
America, or ANCA, last week.
Upon a question on how she characterizes the events surrounding
the Armenian issue, Yovanovitch refrained to describe the incidents
as genocide, although she acknowledged "the mass killings, ethnic
cleansing and forced deportations devastated over 1.5 million Armenians
at the end of the Ottoman Empire." Asked for what would be her future
steps to encourage recognition of the claims of genocide in Turkey,
Yovanovitch said the U.S. Embassy in Ankara was committed to work on
the issue. "As a recent example the administration is currently laying
the groundwork for an International Visitor Program that would bring
archivists from the Turkish State Archives to the United States,"
she said, adding that they have also invited Armenian archivists as
a confidence building measure.
Asked what actions she would take to remember the incident’s victims,
Yovanovitch said: "I will refer to this great historic catastrophe as
the ‘Medz Yeghern’, the term used within Armenia." She also said she
would make it a priority "to promote understanding and reconciliation
between the peoples and governments of Turkey and Armenia."
Upon a question whether the department was satisfied with recent
modifications to Article 301 of Turkey’s Criminal Code that
criminalizes to insult that allowed to be prosecuted for speaking
about genocide, Yovanovitch said the scope for free expression
has expanded in Turkey in recent years. She said they welcomed the
recent amendments and said they encouraged the Turkish authorities
to continue this progress and "to end legal action against citizens
for expressing their views."
Concerned that senators had not been given enough time to review
Yovanovitch’s response, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer placed a
one-month hold on her nomination, hinting that she or a like-minded
senator may permanently block the nomination on grounds that the
nominee is declining to characterize the killings of Armenians as
President George W. Bush’s previous nominee for U.S. ambassador to
Yerevan, Richard Hoagland, was subjected to two legislative holds
by Sen. Menendez and was ultimately withdrawn by the administration,
following the nominee’s statements denying the claims of genocide.