Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday congratulated U.S. President Barack Obama on winning reelection and expressed confidence that U.S.-Armenian relations will grow even closer during his second term.
“Your impressive victory has proven that the course taken by you for moving the United States forward, your domestic and international policy meet the expectations of the overwhelming majority of the American people,” Sarkisian said in a letter released by his press office.
“I am also greatly pleased that with your reelection we will be able to continue to develop and deepen the Armenian-American relations which currently enjoy the highest level in the history of our bilateral contacts,” he said. “I remain confident that during the four years of your second term our multifaceted cooperation will yield new impressive results for the mutual benefit of our peoples.”
The outcome of the tightly contested U.S. presidential election was welcomed by Eduard Sharmazanov, the chief spokesman for Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). Sharmazanov, who is also a deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that it will help to “further improve Armenian-American cooperation.”
Levon Zurabian, a leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), said for his part that Obama’s reelection will ensure “continuity” in U.S. policy on Armenia and the entire region.
The U.S. administration has supported and praised Armenia’s current political leadership throughout Obama’s first term. The Sarkisian government has earned plaudits from Washington for stepping up defense and security cooperation with the United States and especially its 2008-2010 policy of rapprochement with Turkey.
The U.S.-backed Turkish-Armenian dialogue, which eventually ended in failure, topped the agenda of Obama’s first and, so far, only meeting with Sarkisian that took place in Washington in April 2010. The U.S. president praised his Armenian counterpart’s “courageous efforts” to normalize Armenia’s relations with Turkey.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated Washington’s endorsement of Yerevan’s policy on Turkish-Armenian normalization when she visited Armenia in June. In a further boost to Sarkisian, Clinton also commended the Armenian government’s handling of the May 2012 parliamentary elections and its efforts to improve the domestic business environment.
In a September letter to Sarkisian, Obama pledged continued U.S. support for political and economic reforms in Armenia and expressed hope that “our close partnership will expand further in the years ahead.”
Obama’s relationship with the influential Armenian community in the U.S., which overwhelmingly voted for him in 2008, has been far more complicated. He has angered many Armenian Americans with his failure to honor his pledges to reaffirm, if elected president, that the 1915 Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey constituted genocide.
Obama has used instead the Armenian phrase Meds Yeghern, or Great Calamity, in his annual statements commemorating some 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians who perished during World War One. He has at the same time implied that he stands by his past statements that the Armenian genocide is “a widely documented fact.”
The leading Armenian-American advocacy groups have criticized this stance. One of them, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), said last month that it will not endorse Obama or his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Neither Obama nor Romney appear to have sought such endorsement, holding no meetings with Armenian-American leaders during the presidential race. There are no sizable ethnic Armenian populations in the handful of U.S. “battleground” states that essentially decided the election outcome.
Nevertheless, the ANCA was quick to congratulate Obama on his victory and praise Romney for “a well-run campaign.” “We look forward to getting to work right away in engaging with the Obama Administration and the incoming Congress to make progress on the full range of the Armenian American community's public policy priorities,” its chairman, Ken Hachikian, said in a statement.
“We congratulate President Obama on his re-election victory and with the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in 2015, expect that his repeated promises to affirm the Armenian Genocide will be fulfilled this term," read a separate statement by Bryan Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America.
"The Assembly looks forward to working with the Administration and the Congress to build on the progress already made on key issues for the Armenian community and for continued strengthening of U.S.-Armenia and U.S- Artsakh relations," Ardouny said.
Both Hachikian and Ardouny hailed the victories of pro-Armenian U.S. lawmakers in congressional elections that were also held on Tuesday. They include Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as well as many members of the 135-strong Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues.