State Dept. Should Pay a Price For Dismissing Amb. Evans

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State Dept. Should Pay a Price

For Dismissing Amb. Evans

By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

June 29, 2006

For several months now, State Department officials have been hiding behind such nonsensical statements as "ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the president," when confronted with questions regarding the dismissal of John Evans, the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia.

More than 60 members of the House and Senate have sent letters to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking for an explanation for the dismissal of Amb. Evans after acknowledging the Armenian Genocide during his visit to California in February of 2005. Following protests from Turkish officials, the State Dept. forced Amb. Evans to issue a retraction, not once, but twice. He also lost a "Constructive Dissent" Award that he was scheduled to receive from the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) for his candid remarks on the Armenian Genocide. According to the Washington Post, the State Dept. contacted the AFSA to rescind this distinguished award.

The State Dept. has not responded to any of the congressional inquiries nor to the large number of e-mails sent by members of the Armenian American community on this issue in the past 5 months. State Dept. officials can no longer hide, as the Senate has a constitutional oversight responsibility on ambassadorial appointments. This week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding a confirmation hearing for Richard Hoagland, the Ambassador Designate to Armenia (in replacement for Amb. Evans) on Wednesday, June 28, at 2:30 p.m. (East Coast Time). The nomination hearing can be viewed live on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee website:

Members of the Armenian American community should request that all 18 members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee attend this important hearing. Unless urged to do so, most committee members usually do not attend such hearings. It would be particularly effective if voters could urgently contact the Senators from their own state. Please call the Senate switchboard (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to the legislative aides of the following Senators and send e-mails, urging the Senators to attend the June 28 hearing and ask Amb. Hoagland what he knows about the dismissal of Amb. Evans and what instructions he has been given about his use of the term Armenian Genocide after his confirmation:

  • Richard Lugar (Chairman, R-Indiana):
  • Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska):
  • Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island):
  • George Allen (R-Virginia):
  • Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota):
  • George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio):
  • Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee):
  • John E. Sununu (R-New Hampshire):
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska):
  • Mel Martinez (R-Florida):
  • Joseph R. Biden (Ranking Member, D-Delaware):
  • Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Maryland):
  • Christopher J. Dodd (D-Connecticut):
  • John F. Kerry (D-Massachusetts):
  • Russell D. Feingold (D-Wisconsin):
  • Barbara Boxer (D-California):
  • Bill Nelson (D-Florida):
  • Barack Obama (D-Illinois):

Given the evasiveness and unresponsiveness of State Dept. officials to the letters and e-mails sent to them by members of congress as well as the public at large, Senators have no choice but to demand that the State Dept. provide an honest explanation regarding the dismissal of a distinguished career diplomat, before they confirm his successor. If Amb. Evans’ career is indeed being terminated for acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, State Dept. officials should have the courage to face the U.S. Senate as well as the American public and say so.

The Armenian American community should not allow such ill-advised action be taken by cowardly officials who are hiding behind closed doors. Let them come forward and subject themselves to the scrutiny of U.S. Senators and the American public. If the State Department gets away with sweeping this sinister decision under the rug, it would be encouraged to repeat it over and over again with impunity.

Unless meaningful and honest explanations are provided, Senators should be asked to place a temporary hold on the confirmation of Amb. Hoagland. It makes no sense to replace an ambassador without being told the reason why. Otherwise, a few months from now, the new ambassador could also get dismissed without any public explanation.

Callous and arrogant State Dept. officials must be made to pay a price in terms of public humiliation and delay in the confirmation of the new nominee, so they would think twice before taking such capricious decisions in the future! It is simply unacceptable that a group of individuals in the upper echelons of the U.S. government act as accomplices to the denialist regime in Turkey!

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