- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 14, 2011


The leader of an anti-immigrant, ultranationalist party in Bulgaria is denouncing U.S. Ambassador James Warlick for meeting with a newly formed group of independent lawmakers, including some who bolted his political movement.

Volen Siderov, head of the Ataka Party, this week accused Mr. Warlick of interfering in Bulgaria’s internal affairs by holding talks with 10 members of parliament who had left their parties to form the first caucus of independent legislators.

Mr. Siderov called on parliament to adopt a resolution criticizing Mr. Warlick’s July 7 meeting. He also claimed that independents threaten the Bulgarian party system and compared them to political nomads.

“He met with MPs who had withdrawn or had been excluded from their parliamentary groups, whom he assured of his support … without taking into account the extremely negative public attitude toward the ugly phenomenon involving the restructuring of the political system and the so-called parliamentary nomadism,” Mr. Siderov said in a draft resolution.

Tsetska Tsacheva, speaker of the Bulgarian parliament, refused to consider the resolution and sent it to a committee for more study.

The Sofia News Agency reported that the independent lawmakers who met with Mr. Warlick included Kiril Gumnerov, Valentin Nikolov and Ognyan Peychev, who quit the Ataka Party to protest an assault by party members against Muslims praying in a mosque in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.

The U.S. Embassy has not responded to Mr. Siderov’s attack against the ambassador.

In May, however, the embassy accused Mr. Siderov of a “cheap political stunt” when he confronted Mr. Warlick in a restaurant. He tried to present the ambassador with a “bill” for $1.4 billion in rent for what his party says the United States should pay for the using four Bulgarian military bases.


Sen. Robert Menendez displayed his frustration this week over the Obama administration’s continued refusal to acknowledge the killing of 1.5 million Armenians during World War I as genocide.

The New Jersey Democrat repeatedly pressed the issue at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday on the nomination of John Heffern to serve as ambassador to Armenia.

In his prepared remarks, Mr. Heffern, a career diplomat, noted that President Obama has “recognized and deplored” the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as “one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.”

Responding to questions from Mr. Menendez, Mr. Heffern acknowledged that his characterization of the killings met the definition of genocide in a treaty that the United States has signed and ratified. However, he added that the recognition of the massacre as genocide “is a policy decision that is made by the president.”

Mr. Menendez noted that U.S. ambassadors to Armenia regularly attend annual commemoration services on Genocide Remembrance Day.

He complained of the inconsistency of sending U.S. ambassadors “to a country in which they will go to a genocide commemoration and yet never be able to use the word ‘genocide.’ “

“This is a difficult, an inartful, dance that we do,” the senator said.

Armenian-Americans have raised questions about Mr. Heffern because he once was a congressional aide to Rep. Doug Bereuter. They have described the Nebraska Republican as one of the most “pro-Turkish, anti-Armenian” members of Congress.

Armenian-Americans, who strongly supported Mr. Obama in the 2008 election, have expressed anger at him for breaking a campaign promise to recognize the Armenian genocide.

No American president has wanted to offend Turkey, a key NATO ally, by recognizing the massacre as genocide.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email [email protected]ingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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