The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a confirmation hearing to consider the nomination of Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to serve as the next Secretary of State, reported the Armenian Assembly of America. With the hearing, which was chaired by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), concluded, it is widely anticipated that Senator Kerry will be expeditiously confirmed by the Senate. Additionally, questions on Armenian issues will be submitted by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and others for Senator Kerry to answer on the record.
“Senator Kerry is a long-time supporter of Armenian issues and a staunch promoter of America’s fundamental values in the area of human rights and minority rights,” said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “Senator Kerry through his 29 years of service in the United States Senate has a deep understanding of the issues facing Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, and we expect that as Secretary of State that he will remain true to his extensive record,” added Ardouny.
During his tenure in the United States Senate, Kerry cosponsored numerous resolutions on the Armenian Genocide, was instrumental in the adoption of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which restricted U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan until it takes “demonstrable steps to cease all blockades against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” supported the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, the establishment of permanent normal trade relations between the United States and Armenia, as well as legislation regarding Hrant Dink.
In April of 2005, Senator Kerry, along with 31 of his colleagues sent a letter to George W. Bush urging the president to reaffirm “the United States record on the Armenian Genocide…”
In April of 2004, Senator Kerry released a statement on the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which read in part: “I join Armenian Americans and Armenians worldwide in mourning the victims of the Armenian Genocide and I call on governments and people everywhere to formally recognize this tragedy. Only by learning from this dark period of history and working to prevent future genocides can we truly honor the memories of those Armenians who suffered so unjustly.”
In addition, in January of 2004, Senator Kerry urged President George W. Bush to call upon Turkey to comply with the Administration’s long-standing position “that in order to restore economic, political and cultural links with Armenia, Turkey should immediately lift its ongoing blockade of Armenia.”
In April of 1996, Senator Kerry joined with 21 of his colleagues in sending a letter to President Bill Clinton, which read in part: “the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire were subjected to a ruthless, systematic and well-organized policy of deportation, confiscation of property, slave labor, denial of basic rights and, ultimately, murder…The world recognized at the time that a crime against humanity had been committed. The United States condemned the brutal treatment of the Armenians and rendered humanitarian assistance to many of the survivors in the largest relief effort ever organized by this country.”
In a 1993 April 21st floor statement, Senator Kerry stated: “Elie Wiesel, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Council, has said that Adolf Hitler had the Armenian example very much in mind when conceiving his own sick plan for exterminating the Jews. Hitler was confident that no one would care: ‘Who, after all, remembers the Armenians,’ he asked. Sadly, the answer to that question in Hitler’s day was silence. But the answer today is we do; we remember the Armenians. We remember both those who survived and those who perished and we will not allow the truth of their suffering to be obscured by distortions of history or the passage of time.”
In December of 1992, Senator Kerry sent a letter to then Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger urging that “high priority be given to providing emergency humanitarian and economic aid to the Republic of Armenia….” as “the people of Armenia are facing a grim winter as a result of the continued economic blockade imposed by neighboring Azerbaijan…”
In an April 1991 floor statement, Senator Kerry said in part: “Ignoring the Armenian Genocide, extraordinary evidence of man’s capacity for inhumanity, can open a Pandora’s box of selective morality a virtual guarantee that similar tragedy will touch other people in the future. Selective morality only leads to selective genocide. We must never ignore the persecution and slaughter of any people…” and make “a solemn vow that we must prevent genocide from ever happening again, to anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
In February 1990, Senator Kerry expressed his support for enactment of S.J.Res. 212, designating April 24, 1990 as a “National Day of Remembrance of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923.” Kerry specifically stated that it “is imperative for us to be guided by our collective consciences, rather than a sense of political expediency…President Bush stated in 1988 that ‘the American people, our government and certainly the Bush administration will never allow political pressure to prevent our denunciation of crimes against humanity….I would join Congress in commemorating the victims.'”
Also in February of 1990, Senator Kerry joined a bipartisan group of Senators in writing to then Secretary of Defense, Richard Cheney to express concern “about the pogroms and evacuation of Armenians from Azerbaijan.”