In Exclusive Interviews with the Weekly: Congressmen Stand Firmly Behind Genocide Resolution

WASHINGTON (A.W.)—On March 17, a resolution (H.Res.252) calling on the U.S. president to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide was introduced by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), George Radanovich (R-Calif.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). In the days leading up to its introduction, Armenian Weekly editor Khatchig Mouradian was in D.C. talking with Congressmen on the measure. Below are highlights from those conversations.
Talking with Mouradian in his D.C. office, Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said: “Both President [Barack] Obama and Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, when they were running for president, said that they would recognize the Armenian Genocide. He’s president now, she’s secretary of state, and I hope that they will keep their campaign promise to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

Rep. Royce (R-Calif.) talking to the Weekly's Mouradian
Rep. Royce (R-Calif.) talking to the Weekly's Mouradian

Talking about the efforts by the Turkish government and its hired lobbyists to fight U.S. affirmation of the genocide, McGovern said:  “I know there is a lot of pressure for them [Obama and Clinton] to do what the previous administrations have done, which is to tiptoe around the issue. The Turkish government is spending a lot of money trying to lobby Members of Congress into not supporting the resolution, and they’re saying that if we support the resolution, somehow that will ruin our relationship with Turkey.”

But for McGovern, recognizing the past is the only way to move forward for Ankara, especially if it wants to distance itself from the genocidal regime of 1915. “If Turkey has a tantrum over the fact that we recognize a historical fact, so be it. They will get over it. I’ve always said that if Turkey recognized the genocide it would show the world that they are a mature democracy. By spending all these millions of dollars for lobbyists to come up here and intimidate Members of Congress, in a certain way it ties this current government of Turkey to the genocide.”

Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) echoed his sentiments of recognizing the past. Royce spoke about the importance of not allowing people “to deny genocide and escape accountability.” He added, “It’s hard to get today right, if we don’t get the past right.”

Royce said it is high time for the U.S. Congress to do the right thing. “Whether the president was a Democrat or Republican, whether it was [Bill] Clinton or [George] Bush, whether the speaker was Dennis Hastert or Nancy Pelosi, the pressure brought to bear by Turkey produced the same results. At a time when the Swedes and the Swiss and the Russian and the Germans and the French all have done the right thing by recognizing formally the genocide, it is past time” for the U.S. to do the same,” he said.

Immediately after the Armenian Genocide Resolution was introduced, Mouradian spoke with lead sponsor Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on March 17 about what lies ahead. “There is going to be heavy focus on encouraging President Obama to make a strong statement of recognition on April 24 because it will be important in setting the tone of the discussions on the Armenian Genocide Resolution in Congress. … The Turkish lobby will be spending millions, like they did in past years. They will also argue that the recognition of the genocide will cut off reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey, and that this is not the right time. The truth is, after 94 years, if this is not the right time, I don’t know when that right time can be.”

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