Washington briefing: State Department nominee held up over Armenian Genocide comments

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday April 11, 2009

Philip Gordon.

Washington - Left out of President Obama's trip to Turkey was his pick for assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia, Philip Gordon. According to Foreign Policy magazine, Mr. Gordon planned to depart after confirmation by the Senate on April 3, but his nomination was held up at the last moment.

In a statement issued on the same day, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) welcomed the "delay as a meaningful opportunity for senators to weigh the merits of approving a nominee with a record of arguing against [U.S.] recognition of the Armenian genocide." (See this page in the March 14 Armenian Reporter for some of Mr. Gordon's past comments on the subject.)

During a March 27 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Mr. Gordon's nomination, his views were scrutinized by Sen. Robert Menendez (D.-N.J.), who had previously blocked a Bush administration nominee for ambassador to Armenia over his comments on the Genocide.

But according to Foreign Policy, Mr. Menendez eventually decided not to block Mr. Gordon‘s candidacy and abstained in the committee vote.

On April 8, the Armenian Assembly of America reported that it was Sen. John Ensign (R.-Nev.) who requested the postponement of Mr. Gordon's confirmation. In 2007 Mr. Ensign was the main Republican co-sponsor of a Senate resolution on Armenian Genocide.

The Senate is expected to return to consideration of the nominee after its Easter recess.

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