In his opening statement at Junly 28 House Foreign Affairs Committee
hearing, Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) stated "it is critical that
Turkey acknowledge the genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire
against the Armenian people ... I believe that Turks, once they
come to terms with their past, will discover that they have relieved
themselves and their children of an immense moral burden," reported
the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).

"We commend Chairman Berman's ongoing leadership regarding the
need to unequivocally affirm the Armenian Genocide," stated the
Assembly's Grassroots Director Taniel Koushakjian. "As the House of
Representatives looks to its August district work period, this hearing
provides a timely review of important issues and lends new impetus on
the need for Congress to adopt the Armenian Genocide resolution," added
Koushakjian. Earlier this year, Chairman Berman was instrumental in
the committee passage of H. Res. 252, the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

While deterioration of U.S.-Turkey relations served as a focal point in
the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on "Turkey's New Foreign
Policy Direction: Implications for U.S.-Turkish Relations," Committee
Members also discussed the importance of the Armenian Genocide and
other human rights issues.

Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ), in a series of questions,
recalled the words of philosopher George Santayana, who stated "those
who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Congressman
Smith raised concerns about Turkey 's denial of the Armenian Genocide,
the denial of the genocide in Darfur coupled with Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's defense of Sudanese President Omar
al-Bashir, who has been indicted on charges of genocide by the
International Criminal Court (ICC). Based on a 2009 interview of
Erdogan who stated, "No Muslim could perpetrate a genocide," Rep.
Smith asked Ambassador Ross Wilson "what does this say about his

Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) pointed out the overwhelming evidence of
the Armenian Genocide, and also raised the topic of Armenia-Turkey
rapprochement and the Protocols signed between the two countries in
2009. Congressman Costa asked about progress in "country to country
relations." Dr. Michael Rubin, Resident Scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute, indicated that progress had been made through
"quiet diplomacy" while Dr. Ian Lesser, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at
the German Marshall Fund, responded that it will take a "significant
recommitment" of the political leadership in Turkey. Dr. Lesser
also indicated that Armenia-Turkey rapprochement is important in
"its own right" and without being "linked" to other issues such as
Nagorno Karabakh.

Congressman Bilirakis specifically raised concerns about the Armenian
Patriarchate and Turkey 's treatment of ethnic minorities. When asked
by Congressman Bilirakis when the panel expects Turkey to exercise
religious tolerance and ensure minority rights, Dr. Rubin responded,
"shortly before Saudi Arabia ."

From: A. Papazian