Sunday, 18 January 2009

Armenian American groups set out their priorities and expectations ahead of Obama’s inauguration

As president-elect Barack Obama is preparing to formally take the office in Washington, Turkey's foreign minister Ali Babacan “warns” US against recognising the Armenian Genocide.

"It would not be very rational for a third country to take a position on this issue... A wrong step by the United States will harm the process," the Anatolia news agency quoted Ali Babacan as saying late Friday.

Turkey has "never been closer" to normalizing ties with Armenia, its eastern neighbor, and a breakthrough could be secured in 2009, the minister said, according to the AFP.
In the meantime, a letter signed by Armenian American organisations “outlines the priorities and expectations of the Armenian American community on a range of issues, including Barack Obama's pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide”.

We are writing, as the collective leadership of Armenian American advocacy, civic, religious, charitable, and educational organizations, to congratulate you on your historic election as President of the United States and to warmly welcome your inauguration to this high office. On behalf of some two million Americans of Armenian heritage, we look forward to working with you and your Administration to end the cycle of genocide, strengthen U.S.-Armenia relations, contribute to Armenia’s economic growth, and work toward a fair and sustainable regional peace.
They specifically mention that the only wording acceptable for the Armenian community and expected from Barack Obama is the term Armenian Genocide.

As you have stated on several occasions, America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. The clarity of your promise is particularly welcome in light of the unfortunate practice of past U.S. Presidents to use, under Turkey's pressure, evasive and euphemistic terminology rather than directly acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. The term, Armenian Genocide, is the only one that can meaningfully be used to characterize the crime committed by Ottoman Turkey. We look forward, in the coming weeks, to your firm and principled leadership in clearly and unambiguously ending the sad chapter of the U.S. Executive Branch’s capitulation to pressure from Turkey.
The letter also touches upon US-Armenia relations and Karabakh conflict settlement.

In terms of ensuring a durable regional peace, we echo your call for a Nagorno Karabagh settlement that respects democracy and self-determination and encourage you to ensure that these principles serve as the pillars of any agreement. As you know, a vital key to peace, in Nagorno Karabagh and around the world, is direct dialogue. For this reason, we encourage elimination of all artificial barriers to U.S.-Nagorno Karabagh contacts, communication, and other means of increasing our level of mutual understanding. With Azerbaijan’s President once again threatening war, as recently as in his New Year’s message, it is more important than ever for the United States to strengthen the current ceasefire, to work through the OSCE process to secure the commitment of all parties to the disavowal of force, and, as a matter of high priority for our government, to take concrete steps to prevent a renewed war in the South Caucasus. Our ability to advance these and our nation’s many other interests in this strategically pivotal region would be substantially enhanced by a concerted effort on the part of our government to expand U.S.-Armenia relations.

You may read the letter in full here.

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