WASHINGTON—Assistant Secretary of State Phil Gordon Tuesday indicated that the Obama Administration supports the establishment of an Armenia-Turkey historical commission, a controversial proposal long advanced by the Turkish government to cast doubt on the Armenian Genocide and undermine international progress toward the universal recognition of this crime against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
Gordon, during testimony earlier today before the Europe Subcommittee of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, fielded a question from the panel’s Chairman, Robert Wexler (D-FL)
about how the Department of State intends to “navigate the course of the engagement between Turkey and Armenia so that Azerbaijan comes out a winner.” In his response to this inquiry by the Turkish Caucus Co-Chairman, Gordon voiced support for the Armenia-Turkey “roadmap,” a document publicly welcomed by the State Department on April 22, noting, in particular, a highly controversial, much discussed, but never before officially disclosed element of this agreement stipulating the establishment of a commission to examine historical issues between the two nations. His comments read, in part:
“You have two parallel but separate tracks [Armenia-Turkey dialogue and the Nagorno Karabakh peace process] going on, a Turkey and Armenia normalization reconciliation process that we do think is quite potentially historic, where the two countries have agreed on a framework for normalizing their relations that would include opening the border, which has been closed for far to long, which would establish diplomatic relations and would provide commissions in key areas including history, and we encourage that process and we support it.”
The establishment of an Armenia-Turkey historical commission, a measure Turkey has long sought to cast a doubt over the overwhelming historical record of the Armenian Genocide, stands in stark contrast the President Obama’s statements during his campaign for the White House. On several occasions throughout 2008, including only days before the November election, he stressed his “firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable.” The idea of a historical commission has been widely rejected as a denialist tactic, including by the International Association of Genocide Scholars.