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State Department

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This page documents State Department actions in regards to Armenia(ns).

Armenian Genocide Policy

The State Department has long maintained a policy of appeasement towards Turkey, gingerly avoiding the use of the word Genocide in reference to the Armenian Genocide during WWI. This strict policy has rarely been strayed from by US Government officials, from Ambassadors to Presidents.

Daniel Fried, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, addressed the Armenian Assembly’s National Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 27, summarizing the State Departments position as follows:

"The U.S. position on events of 1915 has not changed. We believe that a productive dialogue is the best way to establish a shared understanding of history that honors the victims of these horrific events, murders on a mass scale, killings without justification, deportations. Over 1.5 million people lost their lives, innocent victims. But we want to foster reconciliation and peace based on an understanding of history, not a denial of it. We believe that the tragedy of 1915, the killings, is of enormous human significance and its historical assessment should be determined not on the basis of politics, but introspection among civic leaders and scholars. This process has begun in Turkey where it needs to take place,"
When asked why foreign countries such as Turkey are permitted to dictate America’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Armenia and Cyprus, Fried replied: "Third parties are not permitted to dictate our foreign policy, nor do they dictate our foreign policy. We have a policy which many of you disagree with. I understand. But we have a policy of seeking to encourage Turkey to reflect more seriously about subjects which have been taboo for generations in that country. I said earlier that process has begun in Turkey. You recall that the famous Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk spoke clearly about this. He is not the only Turk speaking out. As I said, this process has begun as Turkish society modernizes, and as it modernizes, as democracy in Turkey deepens, Turkey will have to go through what many other countries such as the United States have had to go through in our own history, which is looking back at the darker spots in our past. With respect to the United States, those darker spots include things like slavery and racial discrimination, treatment of American Indians, and in my opinion, internment of American citizens of Japanese origin in camps in World War II. Those are painful subjects.
Just as dealing with the history of the mass killings of Armenians is painful for Turkey. And by the way, I say this to my Turkish friends using the same words. We keep one set of books. Now that process has begun in Turkey. It is certainly not going fast enough to satisfy you. It is not going fast enough to satisfy us. But this process has begun and it will, I hope, bring greater understanding to Turks of their own history. We will continue to have a dialogue about this as April 24th approaches. I will not attempt to anticipate what the President will say. I do believe he will issue a statement on April 24th, in fact I can’t believe there won’t be one. And I expect, as we have in the past, to consult with the Armenian Assembly about this and to have a frank set of discussions before and after."
In response to a question about “Turkey exporting its denialist tactics to the U.S.,” Fried said: "The United States government has never denied the events of 1915. We do not support, what was the phrase, “export of denialist literature or positions.” We do support efforts by Turkey to deal with its history more seriously. As I said, this process has begun. It has not ended. Efforts such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission [the correct name is: “Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission” or TARC] were serious, and these were efforts in which Turkish as well as Armenian scholars were involved. It produced a serious look at those issues which we have recognized officially. This is not an easy issue. It is not an easy issue for the United States government, and we are not at the end of the road on this issue. We will continue to urge our Turkish friends to face difficult issues of their past seriously, and we will urge Armenia to help the Turks make this possible without ever sacrificing historical truth or your position."
Source: Media Criticism Pushes State Dept. To Respond to Armenian Concerns

To summarize, they are appeasing Turkey and allowing the full truth, the word that best describes the events correctly to be marginalized and questioned.

Use of the word genocide

CQ Transcriptions Congressional Quarterly June 30 2006

STATE DEPARTMENT REGULAR NEWS BRIEFING

JUNE 30, 2006

SPEAKER: J. ADAM ERELI, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESMAN

[parts omitted]

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Why are DOS officials prohibited to use the word, quote/unquote, "genocide" and speak truthfully when discussing the Armenian genocide as happened yesterday in the Congress, during the testimony of a new U.S. ambassador to Armenia?

Senator Norm Coleman, Republican from Minnesota, stated, quote, "I am not sure how we can continue to have ambassador to Armenia who can be effective unless they give recognition to the genocide," end quote.

And the veteran Senator Joseph Biden against Senate approval of new ambassador until the Department of State responds to questions on Ambassador Evans' recall.

ERELI: And what's the question?

QUESTION: The question: Any comment, since you know very, very well the reason?

ERELI: I don't have any comment.

I think that as far as the senator's questions go, we will respond as we normally do, in formal channels to the members of Congress should they ask for that.

And as far as our stand on this issue, there's no change. And if you'd like a restatement of it, I'd refer you to the record.

QUESTION: Why any U.S. ambassador to Israel would have not had credibility if refused to talk about the Holocaust by then-Nazi German and in the case of Armenia, it's happened exactly the opposite?

ERELI: I reject the premise of the question.

QUESTION: Why?

ERELI: Because I think it's fallacious.

QUESTION: And one more.

May we have a copy of the Department of State's, quote/unquote, "background papers" on the Armenian's genocide that Ambassador Hoagland stated the other day he studied in preparation for his possible post to Armenia?

ERELI: No, I think that what is available in the public record is what we can provide.

Lying regarding communications with Turkey

Armenian National Committee of America
http://www.anca.org/press_releases/press_releases.php?prid=979

PRESS RELEASE

STATE DEPARTMENT MISLED SENATE ON TURKISH COMMUNICATIONS ABOUT AMB. EVANS

Justice Department Records Reveal Repeated Contacts by Turkey's Foreign Agent with the State Department Concerning Remarks by the Ambassador to Armenia WASHINGTON, DC - In yet another troubling development concerning the controversial nomination of Richard Hoagland to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Department of Justice records have revealed that the State Department has misled the U.S. Senate regarding its communications with the Turkish government concerning the February 2005 public affirmation of the Armenian Genocide by U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

In a letter, dated June 28, 2005 written on behalf of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), the Ranking Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department denied that the Turkish government had even approached the Administration on this issue. However, official Foreign Agent Registration filings by the Turkish government's registered foreign agent, the Livingston Group, document that, in the days following Ambassador Evans' February 19, 2005 remarks, one of Turkey’s agents communicated on at least four different occasions with State Department officials concerning the envoy's statement and his subsequent retraction.

"With each new revelation, we see more clearly the corrosive impact that the Administration's complicity in Turkey's denial is having on our own core values as Americans," said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian. "This latest failed attempt by the State Department to mislead the Senate adds to the many compelling reasons to block the confirmation of a new Ambassador to Armenia."

Consistent with the pattern of unresponsiveness that has come to characterize the Administration's actions on the Hoagland nomination, the only answer the State Department chose to provide in response to Senator Biden's four questions was a misleading one. His other inquiries - including an official request for an explanation of why Ambassador Evans was being replaced prematurely - remain unanswered.

On June 23rd, as part of Ambassador Richard Hoagland's confirmation process to replace Amb. Evans in Yerevan, Senator Biden wrote a letter asking Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a series of questions including the following: "Has the State Department received any communication - written, electronic, or spoken - from the Turkish Government concerning Ambassador Evans?"

Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Jeffrey T. Bergner responded on behalf of Secretary Rice with the following assertion: "Please be assured that allegations that the U.S. is removing Ambassador Evans under pressure from the Government of Turkey are simply untrue. The Government of Turkey has not approached the Administration on this issue, and the United States and Turkey engaged in no diplomatic exchanges related to this matter."

However, Justice Department filings by the Livingston Group reveal that a day after Amb. Evans’ statements on the Armenian Genocide were publicized in an ANCA-San Francisco press release dated February 24, 2005, a Turkish agent communicated with the State Department concerning his statements. On February 28, 2005, one business day after the agent’s first phone call, Ambassador Evans issued his first public retraction - noting that his mention of the Armenian Genocide was made in a private capacity. Later that same day, the Livingston Group reported three additional calls between one of Turkey’s agents and State Department officials including the Deputy Chief of Mission-designate at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara to discuss Ambassador Evans’ retraction. The very next day on March 1, 2005, Ambassador Evans issued a public correction of his retraction - removing entirely any mention of the Armenian Genocide.

In addition to the Justice Department filings, several Turkish press accounts reported that officials of the Government of Turkey communicated their concerns to the State Department regarding statements made by Ambassador Evans:

1) Turkish Press

On March 3, 2005, Turkish Press reported that, "Turkey's Ambassador in Washington Faruk Logoglu reacted to this. Ambassador Logoglu reminded his interlocutors in the State Department that the United States did not recognize 'Armenian genocide' noting the expression in Evans' apology was unacceptable. Justifying Turkey's warning, US State Department made Evans to issue a 'correction' for the apology." ("Evans Had to Correct His Statement Again After Using ’Genocide’ in His Apology," Turkish Press, March 3, 2005)

2) Anadolu News Agency

On March 4, 2005, the Anadolu News Agency reported that, "The Turkish ambassador to Washington Faruk Logoglu reacted to this message and the Washington administration approved Turkey's demand and made Evans correct the message of apology. Logoglu reminded the US State Department that the US does not recognize the Armenian genocide, but the term was used in the message of apology of the US Yerevan Ambassador. Logoglu noted that a term that is not accepted by USA could not be used in a statement of policy." ("Double Genocide Correction from US Yerevan Ambassador," Anadolu News Agency, March 04, 2005)

3) Turkish Daily News

On May 27, 2006, Turkish Daily News reported that, "'After his remarks last year that caused reaction at the State Department and by Turkey, Evans was given a second chance, but he continued to deviate from the official U.S. policy, working almost as a part of Armenian groups that have a specific agenda,' one U.S. analyst familiar with the matter said on Thursday. 'As a result he was recalled.'" ("US Envoy Fired Over 'Genocide' Claims," Turkish Daily News, May 27, 2006)

The ANCA has circulated relevant sections of the Justice Department FARA filings to Congressional offices.


Washington To Reassure Turkey Over Armenian Genocide Bill
RFE/RL, 6, February 2007

State Department officials say the administration will work with members of Congress to head off the resolution. "A congressional resolution would be a tremendous blow to our bilateral relationship," said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew J. Bryza. "We are working harder than usual."