YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—President Obama is the person who will decide US policy on the Armenian Genocide, said US Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch in response to questions following a presentation Monday at Yerevan State University.
Yovanovitch was at Yerevan State University addressing students on civil society issues. When asked about he Genocide, the US Ambassador was clear to point out that Obama’s personal views on the matter were well known, adding that it is the president who makes US policy and therefore, he will have the ultimate say on the matter.
The ambassador added that the Embassy is planning to commemorate Genocide Remembrance Day with the people of Armenia.
Yovanovitch also told her audience to not draw parallels between the Karabakh and Kosovo issues saying, “negotiators should not concentrate on the fact whether the two cases are alike or not, otherwise they will start discussing the issue of similarity.”
“Every conflict is unique. People often ask me about the similarities between Kosovo and Karabakh, but every conflict is unique, and the Karabakh conflict can be solved only through negotiations,” explained Yovanovitch.
According to Yovanovitch, the Minsk Group is actively working toward the resolution of the conflict.
In her speech to Yerevan State University students, Yovanovitch stressed the important role civil society plays in ensuring democratic values and freedoms.
“Government needs civil society as a skeptic, a partner, a challenger, a training ground, and a source of innovation. Government and civil society must work in tandem, like oars on a boat. If only one oar is rowing, the boat loses direction and goes nowhere,” said Yovanovitch.
“Empowering civil society not only holds the key to Armenia’s democracy and prosperity, it is vital to the nation’s security. And what better time to begin that empowerment than now?,” said Yovanovitch.
“The well-developed democracy and more active political dialogue that President Sarkisian spoke of will require deep and difficult changes. It will require reforms to Armenia’s laws, institutions, and political culture to expand individual liberty, freedom, and responsibility,” added Yovanovitch referring to Sarkisian’s remarks made at the Republican Party convention. At that gathering the president said “the way forward is to create ‘a well-developed democracy, a more active political dialogue … and persistent adaptation of European standards into all areas of our political, social and economic lives,’” according to Yovanovitch.
In her remarks, the US Ambassador also reflected on Armenians’ history of civic engagement in an effort to ensure democracy.
“In the 19th century, Armenians dreamed of again having their own state. They too wrote, spoke, organized, banded together in associations and parties, and opened schools to pass on Armenia’s language, literature, history and culture, before they finally had the opportunity to establish the First Republic. And for centuries before that, Armenia’s oldest civil society institution, the Armenian Church, anchored a nation often dominated by foreign powers. The Soviet model, government control of all aspects of life on behalf of one ruling party, was an aberration in the history of Armenia. And now Armenia has the opportunity to build a stable, resilient and just democracy, with power balanced between those inside and outside the government,” explained Yovanovitch.
“So I want to close with the words of President Obama in his address to the students at Cairo University in June 2009: ‘…I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you more than anyone, have the ability to re-imagine the world, to remake this world. All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings,’” concluded the Ambassador.
Read Yovanovitch’s complete remarks here.