YEREVAN (A.W.)—Commenting on the YouTube video of a conversation between an Armenian American activist and Vice-President Joe Biden, during which the latter said that Armenian President Serge Sarkisian had asked him to refrain from recognizing the Armenian Genocide on the eve of the roadmap agreement between Turkey and Armenia, the U.S. embassy in Armenia issued the following statement:
“The Vice-President and President Sarkisian spoke twice in April 2009. In these calls, the vice-president told President Sarkisian the United States believes that the normalization of relations with Turkey and the opening of borders would provide a path to a better future for Armenia and expressed the support of the United States for his leadership. The vice-president expressed the Obama Administration’s support for a Swiss proposal for a joint Armenia-Turkish statement on progress made toward normalizing relations. President Sarkisian did not raise the issue of the content of President Obama’s statement for Armenian Remembrance Day or seek a delay in consideration of House Resolution 252. Instead, the discussions between Vice-President Biden and President Sarkisian that were recently referenced by the vice-president were about the need to take immediate steps to improve Armenian-Turkish relations. The two leaders agreed that there should be no preconditions to normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey.”
The video had generated a harsh and prompt response from the Armenian president’s office on Oct. 27.
Commenting on the video, Sarkisian’s press secretary Armen Arzumanyan said the president had not called Biden, nor had he made the statement attributed to him. Arzumanyan invited the White House to release the official records of the conversation.
“Upon Joe Biden’s request, two phone conversations were held in 2009, during which time the president of the Republic of Armenia did not make the statement attributed to him in the video—either directly or indirectly. On the contrary, in all his public speeches and official meetings, President Serge Sarkisian has emphasized the importance of the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, and urged not to justify the delay of recognition with the ongoing negotiations with Turkey. Being confident that the White House has at its disposal all of the U.S. vice-president’s official records and phone conversations, the RA presidential administration officially gives its agreement to publicize the noted phone conversation records,” he said.
The full text of the exchange between Biden and the activist follows.
Question: “I’m Armenian, and I want to thank you for the work you did in the Senate. I have a question. I am very involved in the Armenian American community and as you know we’ve been…”
Vice-President Biden: “Oh, I know.”
Question: “… we’ve been very, very burned. I want to know what is the message that we should be giving to our community?”
Biden: “What you should be giving to your community is that we are not backing off. The Turks have to come to the realization of what the reality is. And what we got to do is, you know, this, the compromise that was going on and being worked at for a while… Tell them that it was the Armenian President that called me and said ‘Look, do not force this issue now, while we are in negotiations.’ We passed. That’s past right now. So anyway, reality has a way of intruding.”
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