ANCA Urges Scrutiny of Failed U.S.-Turkey Policy

ARMENIAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF AMERICA
1711 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Fax: (202) 775-5648
Email: [email protected]
Website:

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
September 19, 2008
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Email: [email protected]

ANCA URGES SCRUTINY OF 10 FAILINGS IN U.S.-TURKEY POLICY
DURING AMBASSADORIAL CONFIRMATION HEARING

— Senate Panel Set to Consider Nominee on September 24th

WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)
has called on members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to
closely scrutinize ten serious shortcomings in the Administration’s
handling of the U.S. – Turkey relationship, during the September
24th confirmation hearing for James Jeffrey to serve as the next
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey.

In letters to panel Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) and other key
Committee members, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian outlined the
Administration’s failings, and encouraged strict scrutiny of the
nominee in order to "ensure accountability for past errors, as well
as to apply the lessons learned from these setbacks in charting a
more productive and principled course for U.S.-Turkey relations."

Hachikian underscored that, "We are today, near the close of the
Bush Administration’s eight years in office, at a meaningful
milestone in our relationship with Turkey. This hearing provides
an important opportunity both to look back over the challenges, the
progress, and the setbacks of the past, as well as to look forward
to approaches to develop our ties in ways that advance both our
interests and our values in this vital region of the world."

Among the main failings listed in the letter was its strident
attacks on growing bipartisan movement toward U.S. recognition of
the Armenian Genocide, including President Bush’s firing of
Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, and the "sad public spectacle,"
in October of 2007, of the Administration caving in to Turkey’s
threats against Congressional recognition of this crime against
humanity.

Both members of the Barack Obama-Joe Biden presidential ticket
serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and are strong
advocates of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, each having
spoken out forcefully against the denial of this crime.

The full text of the ANCA letters is provided below.

#####

September 19, 2008

Dear Senator:

I am writing to share our concerns with you regarding President
Bush’s nomination of a candidate to serve as our nation’s next
Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey.

We are today, near the close of the Bush Administration’s eight
years in office, at a meaningful milestone in our relationship with
Turkey. This hearing provides an important opportunity both to
look back over the challenges, the progress, and the setbacks of
the past, as well as to look forward to approaches to develop our
ties in ways that advance both our interests and our values in this
vital region of the world.

Among the areas that hold the greatest level of concern for us, as
Americans of Armenian heritage, are those that deal specifically
with Armenia, as well as those with broader implications for U.S.
diplomacy in the greater Middle East and Caspian regions. These
include:

1) The Bush Administration’s failure, in early 2003, to secure
Turkish cooperation in opening a vitally needed northern front
against Iraq.

2) The Bush Administration’s tacit approval for successive
invasions of northern Iraq that have threatened to destabilize the
territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

3) The Bush Administration’s lack of any meaningful response to
Turkey’s increasingly close ties with Iran and Syria.

4) The Bush Administration’s contribution to the downward spiral of
Turkish public favorable ratings for the United States, which are
at 12% according to the Pew Research Center.

5) The Bush Administration’s firing, in 2005, of the well-respected
U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, over the Turkish
government’s objections to his truthful statements about the
Armenian Genocide.

6) The Bush Administration’s sad public spectacle, in October of
2007, of caving in to Turkey’s threats against the U.S. Congress’
recognizing a crime against humanity. (This capitulation was
compounded by the decision of the President to send two of his
Administration’s senior officials, Under Secretary of Defense Eric
Edelman and Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried, to Ankara to
personally apologize for America for the House Foreign Affair
Committee’s approval of this human rights legislation.)

7) The Bush Administration’s refusal to apply any meaningful
pressure on Turkey to lift its illegal blockade of Armenia.

8) The Bush Administration’s failure to take any concrete steps to
end Turkey’s closure of the Halki theological seminary.

9) The Bush Administration’s ill-advised efforts to legitimize the
illegal Turkish occupation of Cyprus by, among other actions,
facilitating U.S. and international access to illegal ports of
entry in the northern parts of this sovereign island nation.

10) The Bush Administration’s shameful silence on one of the
highest profile human rights cases in recent Turkish history, the
prosecution and official Turkish government intimidation of
journalist Hrant Dink, until after his assassination in January of
2007 on the streets of Istanbul.

This track record deserves close scrutiny, both to ensure
accountability for past errors, as well as to apply the lessons
learned from these setbacks in charting a more productive and
principled course for U.S.-Turkey relations. We thank you for your
consideration of our concerns on each of these points, look forward
to your robust questioning of the President’s nominee, and, of
course, to your sharing with us feedback on the nominee’s responses
prior to the Committee vote on his confirmation.

Sincerely,

[signed]
Kenneth V. Hachikian
Chairman

www.anca.org

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