WASHINGTO, DC — Today, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) expressed his strong concerns over remarks Clinton made last month, while speaking at a State Department presentation, in response to a question regarding the Armenian Genocide.
Schiff conveyed that her mischaracterization of the Armenian Genocide was the cause of “much anguish” in the Armenian-American community, as well as for many human rights advocates. He was sharply critical of the comment by saying that “tragically this is in the line of the Turkish government.” Schiff’s comments follow a bipartisan letter that he and Representative Robert Dold (R-IL) spearheaded and sent to the Secretary.
Citing the voluminous U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide, including the U.S. filing before the International Court of Justice in 1951 that referred to the “Turkish massacres of Armenians” as an example of genocide, the 1981 proclamation by President Ronald Reagan which invoked “the genocide of the Armenians,” and both President Obama’s and Clinton’s statements as Senators, Schiff put the question bluntly of the Secretary of State whether she now held a “different view.”
Explaining that her comments were in reference to the French Parliament’s recent legislation on the Armenian Genocide, and thus should be viewed in that context, Clinton then restated the Administration’s position by referencing President Obama’s several April 24 commemorative statements. Clinton also invoked Obama’s call for a “full, frank, and just acknowledgment.”
Returning to his point about the importance of clarity on the Armenian Genocide, Congressman Schiff reminded the Secretary of the continuing consequences of delaying U.S. affirmation. He noted that the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning California legislation, which extended that statute of limitations to allow descendents of survivors to bring life insurance claims for policies dating from the Armenian Genocide era, was due to the inability of the federal government to speak forcefully and truthfully as then-Senator Obama stated in 2008. The court’s decision effectively denied redress to the victims of genocide.
Representatives Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) and Steve Rothman (D-NJ) associated themselves with Congressman’s Schiff’s remarks. In addition, Congressman Jackson expressed concern regarding the 18 percent across the board cut in the Europe and Eurasia account, which also impacts Armenia.