Մատչելիության հղումներ

Obama To Again Avoid ‘G-Word’


U.S. -- U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a Champions of Change event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building April 16, 2015 in Washington, DC.

After a reportedly heated debate within his administration, U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to again refrain from calling the 1915 Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey a genocide in an annual statement expected later this week.

Obama will at the same time send a high-level U.S. delegation to Friday’s official ceremonies in Yerevan that will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

The White House announced late on Tuesday that the delegation will be headed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and comprise four members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

By contrast, the United States will reportedly be represented by its ambassador in Ankara at an event in Turkey, also scheduled for April 24, which the Turkish government hopes will deflect international attention from the Armenian commemorations of the genocide centennial. Turkey has marked the previous anniversaries of the First World War Battle of Gallipoli on April 25.

The White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough, communicated Obama’s decision to the leaders of the two main Armenian-Armenian advocacy groups at a meeting on Tuesday. Both the Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) strongly criticized the decision afterwards.

“The president's unwillingness to speak truthfully about the Armenian Genocide is not what we expect from a world leader on the centenary of the Armenian Genocide,” the Assembly director, Bryan Ardouny, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.an).“His failure to use the term genocide represents a major blow for human rights advocates and sets the clock back on genocide prevention.”

The ANCA chairman, Ken Hachikian, went further, denouncing Obama’s stance as a “surrender to Turkey” and “national disgrace.” “It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust," Hachikian said in a statement.

The ANCA pointed out that Obama repeatedly described the Armenian massacres as genocide and pledged to ensure its official recognition by the U.S. when he ran for president in 2008.

Obama backpedaled on that pledge after becoming president, anxious not to anger Turkey. In his annual statements on the subject made until now he has used instead the Armenian phrase “Meds Yeghern,” or Great Calamity, to honor some 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred by the Ottoman Turks.

U.S. - US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) after delivering remarks to the news media prior to a meeting at the State Department in Washington, DC, USA, 21 April 2015
U.S. - US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) after delivering remarks to the news media prior to a meeting at the State Department in Washington, DC, USA, 21 April 2015

The Armenian-American leaders met McDonough and two other Obama aides just hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s talks with Turkey’s visiting Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.Neither Kerry nor Cavusoglu mentioned the upcoming 24 April anniversary in their brief comments to reporters in Washington.

Cavusoglu met with Obama’s chief national security adviser, Susan Rice, later in the day. A White House statement said Rice urged Ankara to “take concrete steps to improve relations with Armenia and to facilitate an open and frank dialogue in Turkey about the 1915 atrocities.”

According to Turkish press reports, the main aim of Cavusoglu’s trip to Washington was to prevent Obama from using the word “genocide” this time around. Armenian-American pressure on Obama intensified after Pope Francis called the Armenian massacres “the first genocide of the 20th century” during a Vatican Mass on April 12.

The Associated Press news agency on Tuesday cited unnamed U.S. officials as saying that the pope’s statement, strongly condemned by Ankara, caused a rift within the Obama administration between proponents and opponents of Armenian genocide recognition. They said that some State Department and Pentagon officials warned that using the politically sensitive word would be very counterproductive now that Washington needs Ankara’s help in fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. They also voiced concerns over the safety of U.S. diplomats and troops in Turkey.

According to the Associated Press, an explicit recognition of the genocide was advocated Obama administration officials who deal more directly with human rights issues. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was said to be among them.

During the 2008 U.S. presidential race, Power famously recorded a five-minute video that urged Americans of Armenian descent to vote for Obama because of his clear stance on the genocide issue.

Kerry also vowed to recognize the genocide during his own presidential run in 2004.

XS
SM
MD
LG