March 1 2010

With just days until the first round of US congressional voting on
the Armenian 'genocide' bill, US Armenians say the latest response
from a member of the Obama administration, this time Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, has further enforced the image of the current
government's 'favorable position'

'We are working very hard to assist Armenia and Turkey in their
(reconciliation) efforts and, you know, we would like to continue to
support that effort and not be diverted in any way at all,' says US
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Pushing for the passage of an Armenian "genocide" resolution in a U.S.

House panel vote later this week, the largest U.S. Armenian group
has said the State Department's position on this matter is now more
favorable than that of the earlier U.S. administrations.

During a speech at a House subcommittee last week, Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton used only weak diplomatic language to oppose the
"genocide" measure. "We are working very hard to assist Armenia and
Turkey in their (reconciliation) efforts and, you know, we would like
to continue to support that effort and not be diverted in any way at
all," Clinton said last Thursday.

By saying "not be diverted in any way," Clinton was apparently
referring to Turkey's position that any U.S. congressional endorsement
of the "genocide" bill would effectively kill the Washington-backed
normalization process with Armenia.

But she made no reference to the U.S. national security argument. Over
the past 10 years, the administrations of former presidents Bill
Clinton and George W. Bush had strongly opposed other Armenian
"genocide" bills, saying their congressional passage would deeply
hurt U.S. national security interests.

US Armenians happy

"Secretary Clinton's remarks represent the third time in just the past
few weeks that a senior (Barack) Obama administration official - in
response to pointed questions about the Armenian genocide resolution
- has chosen not to voice ... opposition to the adoption of this
genocide-prevention measure," said Aram Hamparian, executive director
of the Armenian National Committee of America.

"The current administration's conduct, at least to date, stands in
stark contrast to past administrations - both Democratic and Republican
- that used every opportunity to score points with Ankara by attacking
the broad, bipartisan Congressional majority that has long existed
in support of U.S. condemnation and commemoration of the Armenian
genocide," Hamparian said in a weekend statement.

Howard Berman, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives'
Foreign Affairs Committee, announced in early February that his
panel would vote on the resolution this Thursday. If the bill passes
the committee, it will be heading for a final vote on the House
floor. Similar "genocide" resolutions passed the committee in 2000,
2005 and 2007, but could never reach a House floor vote because of
extensive pressure from former presidents Clinton and Bush.

The non-binding resolution would call on Obama to ensure that U.S.

policy formally refers to the Armenian killings as "genocide" and to
use that term when he delivers his annual message on the issue in April
- something Obama avoided doing last year. Turkey has been warning that
any House or Senate adoption of an Armenian "genocide" bill will lead
to a major and lasting worsening in relations with the United States.

A recent Hurriyet Daily News analysis based on the positions and voting
trends of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's 46 members suggested
that the resolution would likely pass the panel's March 4 vote.

Reconciliation process faltering

U.S. diplomats in recent weeks have been urging the Turkish government
to implement the reconciliation process without any preconditions,
saying that in the absence of this action, "genocide" bills in Congress
may be unstoppable.

The Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers signed in October a
set of agreements under which Ankara and Yerevan would set up
normal diplomatic relations and reopen their land border. But the
normalization process is now faltering.

The Turkey-Armenia accord needs to be ratified by the parliaments of
the two neighbors before implementation, but there is no indication
of when either nation would bring the deal to a parliament vote.

The problem that lies at the root of the issue is the unresolved
Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Turkey's
close friend and ally. Turkey first wants to see progress toward a
resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict before opening its border
with Armenia. And the Armenians are hinting no sign of this.

Nagorno-Karabakh, a mostly Armenian-populated enclave inside
Azerbaijan, and parts of Azerbaijan proper have been under Armenian
occupation since a war in the early 1990s. As a result of this war,
Turkey has refused to establish normal diplomatic relations with
Yerevan and has kept the land border with Armenia closed since 1993.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress