By Armen Dulian in Prague
The U.S. External Service Association that this year awarded its “Constructive Dissidence” prize to U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans for recognizing the Armenian genocide this week has cancelled its decision.
Association President John Limbert said there wasn’t a single case in the history of the prize awarded since 1968 that “it was first announced that someone was recognized as its winner and then the award would not be given to him.”
John Evans was the first U.S. official after Ronald Reagan who recognized the Armenian genocide. During meetings with representatives of the Armenian community of California in February the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia said that he had no doubts that what was committed amounted to genocide.
“It is unbecoming of us, Americans, to play games with words,” he added.
But later Evans first explained that it was his personal opinion and after receiving complaints from Turkey he corrected himself and called the events in Ottoman Turkey “an Armenian tragedy”.
The annual award of the U.S. External Service Association is given for dissidence with the adopted political line.
Awards Committee Head Bruce Langren said that the decision to call back the award given to Evans was made after “requests from very serious persons” working in the State Department. Langren, however, insists that the motives were not of political nature.
The State Department reminded that dissidence should be expressed “while working within the system”, while Evans made his comments during meetings with the Armenian community of the United States.
The Washington Post writes today that the decision to withdraw the award was made on the eve of the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to the United States.