LOS ANGELES–A statement dismissing the Armenian Genocide by a financial analyst has stirred controversy between State Treasurer Phil Angelides and officials running the California Public Employees Retirement System.
Angelides–a CalPERS board member–says he is appalled by commen’s contained in a study about Turkey sent to CalPERS.
A report prepared by Marvin Zonis–a consultant based in Chicago–dismisses the Armenian Genocide by saying that during World War I in Turkey–"the very large Greek minority in Turkey fled to Greece. The Armenian minority was dealt with in a different way."
This statement sparked a debate in June by the CalPERS board about foreign investmen’s. This prompted Angelides and the board to reject a bid to hire Zonis as a consultant for the $155 billion pension fund–the largest in the country.
CalPERS chairman Charles Valdes accused Angelides of ethnic bias given his Greek ancestry–to which Angelides responded by telling the Los Angeles Times "To have my ethnicity attacked–I find repellent."
The argument made by Angelides is that the state and its offices–including CalPERS must feel a moral and social responsibility when making decision about investing public funds. A CalPERS decision to divest from the apartheid-led South Africa in the 1980’s can be cited as a precedent by the pension fund for taking more responsibility in its investmen’s.
"All of us have a responsibility of being guardians of historical truth–whether it is about the Khmer Rouge massacre or the Soviet massacres–or the Jewish Holocaust or the Armenian Genocide," Angelides told the Times Friday.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region Executive Director Vicken Sonentz-Papazian–Esq. urged CalPERS Board President Dr. William Crist no to rescind the board’s earlier decision which was "based upon concerns regarding inaccurate–and quite frankly–offensive statemen’s he made with respect to the Armenian Genocide."
State Senator Adam Schiff also expressed his concern to Crist–saying–"I am troubled by the consultant’s insensitive and erroneous depiction of events in the beginning of this century within the Ottoman Empire. Casual dismissal of the government-sanctioned murder of Armenia’s and Greeks within the Ottoman Empire is unacceptable."