BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Dzidzernagapert during her Armenia trip on 4th of July weekend has sparked a discourse among our readers and community members, which warrants a closer look.
There is a school of thought that contends Clinton’s visit to the Armenian Genocide monument should be applauded as it signals a shift in US policy or is an expression of her own personal beliefs and feelings toward the issue of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. There is also the assumption that this visit can serve as an encouraging step—a stepping stone—toward a push for the recognition of the Genocide by the US.
The aforementioned views, while understandable, are in stark contrast to the real objective of pursuing the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
No one is questioning the fact that Clinton’s visit to the Genocide monument was, in fact, a milestone for Armenians and Americans alike. She became the first senior US Administration official to bow her head in memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Genocide at the very monument that our entire nation views as the central memorial of this tragedy. Does Clinton’s visit demonstrate the courage of her personal convictions? Perhaps. Was Clinton in Armenia on a personal trip? No.
The mixed signals sent by the Clinton visit to Dzidzernagapert have allowed this discussion. In more rogue terms, she probably achieved what she set out to do, which was to create a diversion whereby Armenians, who are as a nation passionate about this issue, will discuss the pros and cons of this act and, ultimately, be forced to take sides.
One reader urged that we cut her some slack and be content with her visit, because if she had not visited there would be a chorus of criticism for her ignoring the monument—thus the Genocide—all together. This sentiment can be viewed as a call for Armenians to accept and be content with a crumb that was thrown to us, which diminishes the entire scope of the Armenian Cause.
And what of the folks in Armenia? There should be disappointment and anger with the Armenian government, the civic and political organizations in Armenia and the people in general for not utilizing the opportunity of Clinton’s visit to advance this issue. Furthermore, this silence allowed Clinton to drive the discussion rather than be challenged by it.
At her press briefing Sunday, following meetings with the president, Clinton brought up the issue of the Armenia-Turkey protocols and suggested that the ball was in Turkey’s court to make a move. If this was not a missed opportunity, I don’t know what was. None of the reporters assembled there asked about the Genocide and the failed US policy. She got a pass and she determined the tenor of the discourse. This was her shrewd attempt to control the message and bask in a silence that could signal to the State Department that the Genocide issue is not a priority concern in Armenia.
The pursuit for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a cause for justice, historical truth and acknowledgement of man’s inhumanity to man. Any attempt to placate the Armenian nation, be that by the Obama Administration or others, is nothing but a show of disdain for our aspiration and, to a larger degree, human rights.