WASHINGTON, DC - President George W. Bush today broke his promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In a statement issued today, on April 24th, the annual day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide, the President resorted to the use of evasive and euphemistic terminology to obscure the reality of Turkey's Genocide against the Armenian people. His position on this grave issue runs counter to the expectations of the American people and the bipartisan consensus of Congress - as expressed recently in a letter signed by over 100 U.S. Representatives.
The President's statement today represents a continuation of the Clinton Administration's policy of complicity in the Turkish Government's policy to deny the Armenian Genocide.
Below find 1) the statement issued by the ANCA and
2) the full text of the President's statement:
1) ANCA Statement:
The Armenian American community, while appreciative of the President's sincere willingness to join with Armenians on this day, is profoundly disappointed that, despite his repeated campaign promises, he has chosen not to characterize Turkey's Genocide against the Armenian people in clear and unambiguous terms.
The President, in using terminology that does not accurately identify the genocidal nature of Turkey's crime against the Armenian people, has made the grave error of subordinating fundamental American principles to the demands of the Turkish Government.
This broken promise undermines the credibility of the President on a broad range of issues, including the role the United States seeks to play in the Nagorno Karabagh peace talks.
The Armenian American community cannot accept anything less from the President than actions consistent with the proud tradition of Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, President Woodrow Wilson, and the many other American statesmen in our nation's history who have placed the cause of humanity above narrow political considerations.
2) Text of statement by President George W. Bush
Today marks the commemoration of one of the great tragedies of history: the forced exile and annihilation of approximately 1.5 million Armenians in the closing years of the Ottoman Empire. These infamous killings darkened the 20th century and continue to haunt us to this day. Today, I join Armenian Americans and the Armenian community abroad to mourn the loss of so many innocent lives. I ask all Americans to reflect on these terrible events.
While we mourn the tragedy that scarred the history of the Armenian people, let us also celebrate their indomitable will which has allowed Armenian culture, religion, and identity to flourish through the ages. Let us mark this year the 1700th anniversary of the establishment of Christianity in Armenia. Let us celebrate the spirit that illuminated the pages of history in 451 when the Armenians refused to bow to Persian demands that they renounce their faith. The Armenian reply was both courageous and unequivocal: "From this faith none can shake us, neither angels, nor men, neither sword, fire or water, nor any bitter torturers." This is the spirit that survived again in the face of the bitter fate that befell so many Armenians at the end of the Ottoman Empire.
Today, that same spirit not only survives, but thrives in Armenian communities the world over. Many Armenian survivors and their descendants chose to live in the United States, where they found safety and built new lives. We are grateful for the countless ways in which Armenian Americans continue to enrich America's science, culture, commerce and, indeed, all aspects of our national life.
One of the most important ways in which we can honor the memory of Armenian victims of the past is to help modern Armenia build a secure and prosperous future. I am proud that the United States actively supports Armenia and its neighbors in finding a permanent and fair settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. I hope that this year we will see peace and reconciliation flourish in the south Caucasus region between Armenia and all its neighbors. The United States welcomes the opportunity to support the courageous efforts by the Armenian people to overcome years of hardship and Soviet repression to create a prospering, democratic, and sovereign Republic of Armenia.
Let us remember the past and let its lessons guide us as we seek to build a better future. In the name of the American people, I extend my heartfelt best wishes to all Armenians as we observe this solemn day of remembrance.
[end of statement]
In February of last year, prior to the hotly contested Michigan primary, then Governor Bush affirmed, in a letter to Armenian Americans, that:
"The twentieth century was marred by wars of unimaginable brutality, mass murder and genocide. History records that the Armenians were the first people of the last century to have endured these cruelties. The Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension and commands all decent people to remember and acknowledge the facts and lessons of an awful crime in a century of bloody crimes against humanity. If elected President, I would ensure that our nation properly recognizes the tragic suffering of the Armenian people."
Since his election, over 100 Members of Congress co-signed a letter urging the President to honor his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide as a genocide. In addition, Armenian Americans from all fifty states sent over a hundred thousand postcards to the President asking him to keep faith with his promise. Just two weeks ago, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, by signing a Minnesota Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day proclamation, brought the number of U.S. states officially commemorating the Armenian Genocide to thirty.
In recent decades, U.S. presidents have refrained from properly characterizing the Armenian Genocide under pressure from the Turkish Government, which, in an abuse of its status as a member of NATO, has regularly issued threats against the United States should it take such a step. Despite a long-standing Congressional consensus in support of Armenian Genocide recognition, successive Presidents - and their senior advisors, have exaggerated these threats and prevailed upon Congress to obstruct legislative efforts to commemorate this crime against humanity. Most recently, last October, responding to threats by the Turkish government, the Clinton Administration pressured the U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who had himself previously pledged to support Armenian Genocide Resolution, to withdraw it, only moments before it was to have come to a vote. As a candidate in 1992, then Governor Clinton had properly characterized the Armenian Genocide in campaign statements.
Visit http://www.anca.org to share your views with the President.
Phone: (202) 456-1111 (Comments line) (202) 456-1414 (White House switchboard) Fax: (202) 456-2461 Mail: The Honorable George W. Bush c/o Karl Rove, Public Liaison Office The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500
Please send a copy of your email correspondence to the ANCA at firstname.lastname@example.org.