WASHINGTON–After languishing for more than a year in Washington, Richard Hoagland, the US Ambassador Designate to Armenia, is about to be reassigned to another country, according to several confidential but highly reliable sources, reported the Glendale-based California Courier.
Hoagland, who was serving as U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan in 2006, was nominated by Pres. Bush to replace John Evans, the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia. Evans was forced into early retirement last year, after he used the words "Armenian Genocide" to describe the mass murder of Armenia’s in Turkey, during his visit to California in February 2005. Despite his public apology for such an "indiscretion," the State Department even pressured the American Foreign Service Association to rescind the "Constructive Dissent" Award that Amb. Evans was selected to receive.
In retaliation for the disrespect shown by the State Department towards the Armenian-American community and the Armenian Genocide, Armenian-Americans asked that the U.S. Senate block the nomination of Amb. Hoagland. After lengthy debates in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez (Dem.-N.J.) placed a hold on Hoagland’s nomination, thus blocking his assignment as the next ambassador to Armenia.
"Although we have not heard any official statemen’s confirming this new, in light of his denial of the Armenian Genocide and consistent with our long-standing policy, we would welcome the President’s decision to withdraw Ambassador Hoagland’s nomination and propose a new name to the Senate to serve as our nation’s Ambassador to Armenia," said ANCA Executive Director Aram. "A diplomat who denies the Armenian Genocide cannot serve effectively as America’s representative in Yerevan."
Citing the opposition of the Armenian American community and the growing controversy within Congress surrounding the nomination Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) joined Menendez in calling on President Bush to withdraw the Hoagland nomination and propose a new candidate to serve in this important diplomatic post.
They stressed that, in light of the broad-based concerns within Congress, the extensive media coverage this issue has received, and the strong stand of the Armenian American community against the nomination, "it would serve neither our national interests nor the U.S.-Armenia relationship to expect Ambassador-designate Hoagland to carry out his duties under these highly contentious and profoundly troubling circumstances."
More than half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and more than 60 U.S. Representatives have raised concerns about the Hoagland nomination and the State Department’s refusal to explain the controversial firing of his predecessor, John Marshall Evans, for speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide. The Department of State has also failed to offer any meaningful explanation of the role that the Turkish government played in the dismissal of Ambassador Evans, a diplomat with over thirty years of service at the Department of State.