Armenia, Artsakh Join World in Congratulating Barack Obama

WASHINGTON — Armenian President Serge Sargisian and Artsakh (Karabagh) President Bako Sahakian were among the world leaders who sent their enthusiastic congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama and Vice President-Elect Joseph Biden this week.

Sargisian congratulated Obama, writing, “Honorable Mr. Obama, I warmly congratulate you on the occasion of your election as the 44th president of the United States of America.

“I am confident that during the years of your presidency A r m e n i a n – American relations will gain a new quality and political and economic cooperation between our countries will deepen to the benefit of our friendly peoples,” Sargisian said in a congratulatory message to Obama.

Sahakian congratulated Obama, calling his victory an “epoch-making event both in American history and for the world democracy.”

In his November 6 letter, Sahakian praised the ongoing American economic assistance to Nagorno Karabagh and the US mediation efforts as co-chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group. He expressed confidence that under the new administration “the ties between the two countries will become much stronger and more diversified.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated Obama, stressing Turkey’s expectations that America’s policy of not recognizing the Armenian Genocide would continue.

“We hope that some theses raised during the election campaign will stay there (in the past) as campaign issues,” Erdogan said.

The Obama for America campaign had released a statement reaffirming Obama’s pledge to recognize the Genocide, the day before the election. In a statement released to Armenians for Obama, the campaign stated, “Barack Obama shares with Armenian Americans a principled commitment to ending genocide. That starts with acknowledging the tragic instances of genocide in world history… Barack Obama strongly supports passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106) and will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

Over the past 10 months, Obama on at least three separate instances publicly stated his pledge to recognize the Genocide as president as well as his support for strengthening US relations with Armenia. No other presidential candidate, from either party, has so vehemently stated their support for these issues.

Also expressing delight with the election was the Armenian Assembly of America. In a statement, they noted that several issues with concern the Armenian-American community include reversing the Anti-Evans Doctrine, ending attempts to isolate Armenia, ending Genocide denial, ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights consistently around the world and a just resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. While Sen. John McCain was an early supporter of self-determination and fundamental freedoms for the people of Nagorno Karabagh, in recent years he has sided with Turkey and Azerbaijan to oppose reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide and turned a blind eye to Azerbaijan’s human rights record.

“By all accounts this was an historic election which provides a tremendous opportunity for all Americans,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “The new administration will have a far-reaching impact over the next four years. The Assembly looks forward to the immediate revocation of the Anti-Evans Doctrine, and in its place ensure that all US diplomatic and foreign policy personnel are made fully aware of the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide and are allowed to speak the truth freely,” he continued.

The Anti-Evans Doctrine was formulated by the Bush Administration to remove Ambassador John M. Evans after he acknowledged the Armenian Genocide in 2005. Evans’ statement, however, was consistent with former President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, as well as George W. Bush’s acknowledgement by reference to the International Center for Transitional Justice analysis on the Armenian Genocide. In 2007, the Armenian Assembly bestowed upon Evans the Henry Morgenthau Award for Meritorious Public Service.

Evans’ remarks were also consistent with President George W. Bush’s campaign promise, US policy and legal precedents. However, the Bush Administration removed Evans for his public acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide and disallowed State Department officials from accurately reflecting US policy.

The following includes some of the messages of congratulation from world leaders:

•Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: “Forty-five years ago, Martin Luther King dreamed of an America where men and women will be judged not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character. What America has done is turn that dream into a reality.”

•French President Nicolas Sarkozy: “Your stunning victory rewards a tireless commitment to serving the American people. It is also the crowning achievement of an exceptional campaign whose brilliance and high tone demonstrated the vitality of American democracy to the entire world, while keeping them spellbound.’’

•Iraqi President Jalal Talabani: “I have the honor and pleasure to congratulate you wholeheartedly on the impressive win you have had. We look forward to the relations between our two countries under your mandate, and further consolidation and development in all fields.’’

•Pope Benedict XVI: “He [Obama] can respond to the expectations and the hopes of those that look to him.’’

(Bloomberg contributed to this report.)