Armenian Caucus Asks Obama to Separate Genocide and ‘Roadmap’


By Thomas C . Nash
Mirror-Spectator Staff

WASHINGTON — Eighty-two members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Barack Obama last Thursday asking him to stop linking a Turkish- Armenian rapprochement with recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

The letter was drafted by Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs Mark Kirk and Frank Pallone with George Radanovich and Adam Schiff — all lead sponsors of the Armenian Genocide recognition legislation re-submitted in March.

The letter lambasted Turkey for not holding up its end of the “roadmap” agreed to in April, two days before the April 24 anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Obama cited progress in the talks in his statement while avoiding the term “genocide,” which had been a campaign promise that won him early support from the Armenian-American community.

Pallone (D-NJ) said the Caucus members grew frustrated with Turkey after it began listing preconditions for further talks with Armenia, including the resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.

“Basically what the Armenian Caucus would like the Obama administration to do is not to let Turkey undermine the roadmap,” Pallone said. “We believe Armenia has acted in good faith to achieve normalization. Turkey isn’t doing that. It really isn’t moving forward with the dialogue.”

The letter, released on July 29, asked Obama to discourage Turkey from using the roadmap as an excuse from blocking Armenian Genocide recognition.

“It would appear that Turkey, in an effort to block US recognition of the Armenian Genocide, agreed to a roadmap it did not intend to uphold,” the letter stated. “Therefore, we urge your Administration to separate the issues of normalization and genocide recognition.”

“We hope that renewed efforts and focused resources from the Administration can be utilized to nurture the Armenia-Turkey normalization process without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe, and continue to remain strongly supportive of your stated campaign policy to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

Pallone said that the goal for the caucus is that Obama will help Congress pass the Armenian Genocide resolution, which is awaiting approval from the House Foreign Relations Committee, and fulfilling his promise to recognize the Genocide.

“The president should move forward in terms of formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide and supporting Congressional efforts to recognize the Genocide,” Pallone said, “because that should have nothing to do with the normalization of Armenian and Turkish relations. The fear that I have is Turkey has basically linked the two.”

The complete text of the letter appears below:

Dear Mr. President:

We write to you with our concerns about Turkish backpedaling on the agreed upon roadmap to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia.

On April 22, 2009, just two days before the 94th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, the Department of State released the following statement:

The United States welcomes the statement made by Armenia and Turkey on normalization of their bilateral relations. It has long been and remains the position of the United States that normalization should take place without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe. We urge Armenia and Turkey to proceed according to the agreed framework and roadmap. We look forward to working with both governments in support of normalization, and thus promote peace, security and stability in the whole region.

Two days later, instead of recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the Administration opted to focus on this new roadmap to Armenian- Turkish normalization. “I also strongly support the efforts by Turkey and Armenia to normalize their bilateral relations,” you wrote. “Under Swiss auspices, the two governments have agreed on a framework and roadmap for normalization. I commend this progress, and urge them to fulfill its promise.”

While the Government of Armenia remains committed to this roadmap and has long offered to establish ties with Turkey without preconditions, Turkey’s public statements and actions since April 24th stand in sharp contrast to this agreement and undermine US policy that normalization take place without preconditions.

On May 13, 2009, Prime Minister Erdogan publicly conditioned normalization of relations with Yerevan on Azerbaijan’s approval of a future settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that fully meets Baku’s satisfaction. “I want to repeat once more that until the occupation ends, the border gates [with Armenia] will remain closed,” Erdogan told the Azeri Parliament.

On June 17, 2009, EU South Caucasus Envoy Peter Semneby said Turkey had taken “tactical steps backwards” in the normalization process with Armenia.

It would appear that Turkey, in an effort to block US recognition of the Armenian Genocide, agreed to a roadmap it did not intend to uphold. Therefore, we urge your Administration to separate the issues of normalization and genocide recognition. We hope that renewed efforts and focused resources from the Administration can be utilized to nurture the Armenia-Turkey normalization process without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe, and continue to remain strongly supportive of your stated campaign policy to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Sincerely,
Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Mark Steven Kirk (RIL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), George Radanovich (RCA), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Joe Baca (D-CA), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Shelley Berkley (DNV), Howard Berman (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (RFL), Bruce Braley, (D-IA), John Campbell, (R-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Scott Garrett (RNJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Maurice Hinchey (DNY), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Michael Honda (D-CA), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), James Langevin (D-RI) Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) Daniel Lungren (R-CA). Stephen Lynch (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), James McGovern (DMA) Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Candice Miller (RMI), Walt Minnick (D-ID), Grace Napolitano (DCA), Richard Neal (D-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), John Olver (D-MA) Payne, Donald (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Edward Royce (R-CA), Bobby Rush (D-IL) Paul Ryan (R-WI), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD) James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Mark Souder (R-IN), Zack Space (D-OH), Jackie Speier (D-CA), John Tierney (D-MA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tim Walz (D-MN) Henry Waxman (D-CA), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)