WASHINGTON–Republican presidential contender Arizona Senator John McCain responded today to the Armenian National Committee of America’s (ANCA) national postcard campaign with a letter outlining his views on issues of concern to Armenian American voters.
Over the past four months–over 200,000 postcards addressed to Senator McCain have highlighted his record of having voted "against the Armenian Genocide resolution and failing to speak out against Turkey’s denials." Through these postcards–Armenia’s Americans from across the U.S. asked the Senator to explain his vote in 1990 against Bob Dole’s Armenian Genocide resolution and–more recently–his vote this past June to repeal the law imposing restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan (Section 907). Similar postcards were also sent to the other leading presidential candidates.
Most notable in McCain’s response was his failure to properly characterize as "genocide" what he himself describes in his letter to the ANCA as the "systematic murder of as many as one and a half million Armenia’s." Nor does McCain’s letter specifically address the issues raised in the postcards – namely his Senate votes against Armenian American issues. He did–however–note that–"A century that began with the systematic murder of as many as one and a half million Armenia’s and ended with the brutal subjugation of Chechnya should not be permitted to fade from our collective memory as we look ahead into the 21st Century. In this respect–it was gratifying to witness Armenia’s emergence as an independent nation and its growth as a democracy. The Armenia’s-American community–a large and vibrant part of our society–plays a vital role in ensuring that the scale of human’suffering endured during the 20th century is not repeated through its efforts at keeping alive the memory of the horrible events of 1915-1923."
Elsewhere in his letter–McCain voiced his commitment to "forge the closest relations between Armenia and the United States," and expressed his "strong support for the Armenian American community." He cited his 1997 visit to Armenia–pledged to help Armenia continue building a strong democracy–and noted his "strong support for more than $80 million per year in foreign aid" to Armenia.
"While we welcome Senator McCain’s willingness to speak to the concerns of Armenian American voters and value his commitment to strengthening U.S.-Armenian relations–we remain troubled- particularly in light of his past record – by his continued failure to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide as a genocide," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Down-playing or dismissing – through euphemisms or evasive terminology – the deliberate campaign by Turkey to annihilate the Armenian people serves neither American values nor U.S. interests in preventing future genocides." Statemen’s on Armenian American issues have been received from each of the four leading presidential candidates – McCain–Texas Governor George Bush–Vice President Al Gore–and former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. Among these–both McCain’s and Al Gore’s statemen’s stand out as failing to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide. "The ANCA is deeply gratified by the energetic response within the Armenian American community to our million postcard campaign – a response which resulted in statemen’s on Armenian issues being released by each of the leading candidates. We are confident that each of these candidates will want to build upon this dialogue with Armenian American voters in the months ahead," added Hamparian.