Washington briefing: U.S. Ambassador-Designate to Turkey clarifies position on Genocide

by Emil Sanamyan and Lusine Sarkisyan

Published: Saturday October 04, 2008

Washington -

U.S. ambassadors to Ottoman Turkey Henry Morgenthau (1913-16) and Abram Elkus (1916-17) and other contemporary U.S. diplomats described in their communications "an attempt to exterminate the Armenian population," ambassador-designate to Turkey James Jeffrey noted in a written response to questions for the record from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair and vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden (D.-Del.)

The exchange, released by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) on September 26, was part of the Senate committee's consideration of Mr. Jeffrey's candidacy to be the next U.S. ambassador to Turkey and a congressional effort to correct the Bush administration language on the Armenian Genocide.

Mr. Jeffrey promised that if confirmed he would continue to encourage "Turkey to come to terms with the dark spots in its history and establishing an honest dialogue within Turkey on these events," as well as support normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia.

Meanwhile, Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential candidate, released a statement to Armenian-Americans on September 29. The statement was substantially the same as a text sent to the ANCA on February 1. Both communications acknowledged the Armenian community's contributions to America and Armenia's cooperation with the United States, but did not promise any positive changes in U.S. policy on matters of significance to Armenian-Americans, such as the Armenian Genocide issue.

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Sen. Robert Menendez, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, secured the resolution's adoption. Via ANCA

Senate committee adopts Armenian Genocide resolution

On April 10, for the first time in nearly a quarter century, a U.S. Senate committee adopted a resolution, calling on the U.S. government to commemorate the Armenian Genocide; last moment amendments removed direct references to Turkey and the Obama Administration did not oppose the vote.