- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Armenian-Americans are suspicious of President Obama’s nominee to serve as ambassador to Armenia because he once worked for a man described as “consistently one of the most pro-Turkish and anti-Armenian representatives to serve in Congress.”

The Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian National Committee of America are urging members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to demand answers on key Armenian issues from John A. Heffern on Wednesday at a confirmation hearing on his nomination.

“Without prejudging [the] nominee …, he will have a steep hill to climb in explaining and distinguishing his views from those of former Congressman [Douglas] Bereuter,” the Armenian Assembly said.

Mr. Bereuter, Nebraska Republican, served in Congress from 1979 to 2004.

Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee, urged all members of the committee to attend the hearing “to question” Mr. Heffern “about his qualifications and candidacy for this important diplomatic posting.”

He called for committee members to ask Mr. Heffern about the Obama administration’s views on a “truthful and just resolution of the Armenian genocide; a free and fair settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh based on democracy and self-determination; and the promotion of U.S.-Armenia economic relations …”

Armenian-Americans have criticized Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for failing to keep campaign promises to recognize as genocide the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Turkish empire during World War I.

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton even opposed a congressional resolution commemorating the Armenian genocide, just as former U.S. administrations have done to avoid angering Turkey, a key NATO ally.

Turkey denies the killings were an attempt to wipe out the Armenian population and calls the numbers of deaths inflated.

Mr. Hamparian also is seeking a clearer administration position on the future of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan.

Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991, and Armenian and Azeri forces fought over the enclave from 1988 to 1994.

The confirmation hearing on Mr. Heffern’s nomination begins at 3 p.m. in Room 419 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The committee also will consider the nominations of Thomas M. Countryman to serve as assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, Jeffrey DeLaurentis to serve as a deputy U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, William H. Moser as ambassador to Moldova and Paul D. Wohlers as ambassador to Macedonia.


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