YEREVAN — Former United States ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, who was dismissed by the Bush administration, over his use of the word Genocide in describing the massacres of Armenians, has praised President Barack Obama’s adherence to his ‘own views’ in acknowledging the 1915 events.
“I think that President Obama’s statement in 2009 and subsequently moves us very much closer to the goal of full recognition and understanding of what happened in those days,” Evans said in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service ( on Tuesday.
Following the pattern of his predecessors, U.S. President Obama backpedaled on one of his election pledges made to the sizable Armenian American community as he refrained from terming the World War I-era massacres of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey a genocide in his first annual April 24 statement in the presidential capacity. Instead, the newly elected American leader used the Armenian phrase “Mets Yeghern”, or Great Calamity, to describe “one of the great atrocities of the 20th century”.
At the same time, Obama made it clear that he stood by his earlier public statements on the subject. In particular, during his election campaign Obama repeatedly referred to the 1915-1918 slaughter of more than one million Ottoman Armenians as genocide.
“The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence,” he said in a January 2008 statement on his campaign website. “America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that president.”
“In his statement in April 2009 Obama went much farther than any U.S. president has ever gone before in making it clear what his own view is,” commented Evans in Yerevan as he attended an open public forum discussion hosted by the local think tank Civilitas.
Evans, who served as U.S. ambassador to Armenia in 2004-2006, is believed to have been recalled by the administration of former President George W. Bush for publicly describing the World War I-era massacres of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide. Evans later explained he had uttered the word genocide to express his personal opinion rather than make a statement as a diplomat.
Evans believes that John Heffern, the future U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, should also consider that President Obama’s position on the 1915 events is much more sincere “than the positions of the past.”

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