WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor James L. Jones, in a letter sent recently to a bipartisan group of 82 U.S. Representatives, failed to meaningfully respond to the specific concerns raised by these legislators with the President regarding Turkey’s ongoing efforts to block U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The letter from Jones, dated September 17, 2009, sidestepped concerns regarding Turkey’s backtracking from the commitments it has made as part of its discussions with Armenia, and, most notably, Ankara’s use of this dialogue to serve its longstanding interest in preventing Presidential commemoration and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide.
In his letter, Jones used the very evasive and euphemistic terminology, in the place of an honest and straightforward recognition of this genocidal crime, that President Obama powerfully condemned as “inexcusable” while a U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate.
On July 30 of this year, 82 members of the U.S. House shared their concerns with President Obama about Turkey’s efforts to manipulate the public perception of its dialogue with Armenia to block U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The legislators stressed in their letter, that, in light of Turkey backtracking from its commitments, it was especially important for the President to honor his campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
“It would appear that Turkey, in an effort to block U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, agreed to a roadmap it did not intend to uphold,” explained the legislators in their July 2009 letter. “Therefore, we urge your Administration to separate the issues of normalization and genocide recognition. We hope that renewed efforts and focused resources from the Administration can be utilized to nurture the Armenia-Turkey normalization process without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe, and continue to remain strongly supportive of your stated campaign policy to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
The Congressional letter was initiated by Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), who co-chair the Armenian Caucus, and Adam Schiff (D-CA) and George Radanovich (D-CA), the lead authors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.252. Joining them as co-signers were Representatives: Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Joe Baca (D-CA), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Howard Berman (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Bruce Braley, (D-IA), John Campbell, (R-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Michael Honda (D-CA), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), James Langevin (D-RI) Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) Daniel Lungren (R-CA). Stephen Lynch (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), James McGovern (D-MA) Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Candice Miller (R-MI), Walt Minnick (D-ID), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Richard Neal (D-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), John Olver (D-MA) Payne, Donald (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Edward Royce (R-CA), Bobby Rush (D-IL) Paul Ryan (R-WI), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD) James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Mark Souder (R-IN), Zack Space (D-OH), Jackie Speier (D-CA), John Tierney (D-MA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tim Walz (D-MN), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Frank Wolf (R-VA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).
The full text of the letter from James Jones to President Obama follows.
THE WHITE HOUSE
September 17, 2009
Thank you for your July 30 letter to the President regarding the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey following their April 22nd announcement of an agreed framework and roadmap. We agree that the Armenia-Turkey normalization process, which has important benefits for both sides, should move forward without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe. Toward this end, we are actively engaged at the highest levels to support full restoration of relations between Turkey and Armenia. On August 31, the U.S. warmly welcomed the joint statement made by Turkey and Armenia, with Swiss participation, outlining further steps in the normalization of their bilateral relations.
Thank you also for your restatement of your position on the massacres of 1915, which the President has described as one of the great atrocities of the 20th century. As he said in his Remembrance Day message, his view of that history has not changed. Our interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts. We continue to believe the best way to advance that goal is for the Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as part of their efforts to move forward. We will continue to pursue these efforts vigorously in the months ahead.
General James L. Jones, USMC, Ret.
National Security Advisor