December 5, 2018 - 11:36 AMT
U.S. Senators press ambassadorial nominee on Armenian Genocide

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Democrat Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), during questioning today of President Trump’s nominee to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Lynne Tracy, pressed her on the deeply flawed U.S. policy regarding the Armenian Genocide, praised Armenia’s political transition, and encouraged her, if confirmed, to take concrete steps to grow the U.S.-Armenia relationship – starting with a bilateral tax treaty, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“The Trump Administration and I personally acknowledge the historical facts of what took place at the end of the Ottoman Empire – of the mass killings, the forced deportations and marches that ended 1.5 million lives and a lot of suffering. And I will, if confirmed, do everything in my power to acknowledge and respect the losses and the suffering and commit myself to participating in any remembrance activities,” responded Tracy to the first of a series of questions, this one posed by Senator Markey on U.S. policy dealing with the Armenian Genocide. Sen. Markey responded, “It’s time for us just to stand up and call it what it was. It helps us in the future to have credibility.”

After a series of historical questions about the Armenian Genocide, Sen. Menendez asked: “would you punish a U.S. Embassy official in Armenia for an honest remembrance of the Armenian Genocide?”

Tracy responded, “Senator, I would expect that, as with myself, we follow the policy of the Administration. And, the policy is that we acknowledge the historical facts of the events of 1915 as a mass atrocity and that we participate in any remembrance activities. And, I’ll just say, as a senior leader in the Foreign Service, I am always open to debate on my team. I don’t punish people for expressing their viewpoints. But, as members of the Executive Branch, at the end of the day, we support the President’s policy,” concluded Tracy.

“This is the problem with nominees who come before us, and it’s not you particularly,” followed up Sen. Menendez. “In fact, we have a historical reality: 1.5 million people were massacred. That’s Genocide. And yet, we send an Ambassador to a country and have them go to a memorial of a holocaust of the Armenian people and they won’t be able to call it genocide. It’s pretty ironic. If we are not able to acknowledge the past, we are destined to relive it,” stressed Sen. Menendez.

“We regret that Ambassador-designate Tracy, in her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was so very publicly reduced to using euphemistic and evasive language to avoid proper condemnation of the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “She is, sadly, yet another victim of the lack of will on the part of successive U.S. administrations to reject Ankara’s open and arrogantly enforced gag-rule forbidding proper American remembrance of this crime.”

On April 24, Armenians worldwide commemorated the 103rd anniversary of the Genocide which began in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and continued until 1923. Some three dozen countries, hundreds of local government bodies and international organizations have so far recognized the killings of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as Genocide. Turkey denies to this day.