Barack Obama on Armenian Issues

Barack Obama on the Importance of US-Armenia Relations

January 19, 2008
I am proud of my strong record on issues of concern to the one and a half million Americans of Armenian heritage in the United States. I warmly welcome the support of this vibrant and politically active community as we change how our government works here at home, and restore American leadership abroad.

I am a strong supporter of a U.S.-Armenian relationship that advances our common security and strengthens Armenian democracy. As President, I will maintain our assistance to Armenia, which has been a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism. I will promote Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America's founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination. And my Administration will help foster Armenia's growth and development through expanded trade and targeted aid, and by strengthening the commercial, political, military, developmental, and cultural relationships between the U.S. and Armenian governments.

I also share with Armenian Americans so many of whom are descended from genocide survivors - a principled commitment to commemorating and ending genocide. That starts with acknowledging the tragic instances of genocide in world history. As a U.S. Senator, I have stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. Two years ago, I criticized the Secretary of State for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term "genocide" to describe Turkey's slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. I shared with Secretary Rice my firmly held conviction that 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. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Genocide, sadly, persists to this day, and threatens our common security and common humanity. Tragically, we are witnessing in Sudan many of the same brutal tactics - displacement, starvation, and mass slaughter - that were used by the Ottoman authorities against defenseless Armenians back in 1915. I have visited Darfurian refugee camps, pushed for the deployment of a robust multinational force for Darfur, and urged divestment from companies doing business in Sudan. America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President.

I look forward, as President, to continuing my active engagement with Armenian American leaders on the full range of issues of concern to the Armenian American community. Together, we will build, in new and exciting ways, upon the enduring ties and shared values that have bound together the American and Armenian peoples for more than a century.

Obama/Biden: An Expanded View of their Record on Armenian American Concerns

Obama's Actions:
  1. In September 2008, Senator Obama issued a statement on Armenia's Independence. READ MORE
  2. In June 2008, Senator Obama submitted numerous questions on the Armenian Genocide to the nominee to be Ambassador to Armenia. READ QUESTIONS
  3. On July 28, 2006, Senator Obama sent a letter to Secretary of State Rice criticizing the firing if Ambassador Evans for recognizing the Armenian Genocide. READ LETTER
  4. In April 2008, Senator Obama issued a statement commemorating the Armenian Genocide.
  5. In both 2005 and 2006, Senator Obama cosigned letters to President Bush urging him to recognize the Armenian Genocide. READ 2005 LETTER  •  READ 2006 LETTER

Biden's Actions:
  1. In September 2008, the nominee to be Ambassador to Turkey admitted, after questioning by Senator Biden, that American diplomats during the Ottoman Empire did indeed document a campaign with intent to exterminate the Armenian population. READ MORE  •  READ BIDEN'S QUESTIONS
  2. In July 2008, the State Department responded to Senator Biden's inquiries concerning the Administration's policy on the Armenian Genocide, which include critical admissions stating that the Administration "hold Ottoman officials responsible for... crimes [committed against Armenians.]" READ RESPONSE
  3. In June 2008, Senator Biden submitted numerous questions to the nominee to be Ambassador to Armenia, concerning the Armenian Genocide, Turkey's blockade, and Azerbaijan's alarming war rhetoric. READ QUESTIONS
  4. Senator Biden issued a statement commemorating the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2008, as he has done for numerous years dating back to the 1980s.
  5. In 2007, Biden authored resolution condemning murder of Hrant Dink and urging tolerance in Turkey.
  6. On August 24, 2006, Senator Biden wrote a second letter to Secretary Rice outlining concerns regarding the firing of Ambassador Evans', the Administration's policy towards the Armenian Genocide and Turkey's blockade of Armenia. READ LETTER
  7. In August 1, 2006, Senator Biden postponed consideration of Amb. Hoagland until State Department provided answers concerning the firing of Amb. Evans for recognizing the Armenian Genocide. READ MORE
  8. In June 2006, Senator Biden submitted numerous questions to the nominee to be Ambassador to Armenia Richard Hoagland. READ QUESTIONS
  9. On June 23, 2006, Senator Biden wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rice stating that he would not be prepared to allow the nominee to replace Ambassador to Armenia John Evans to move forward until the State Department answered questions concerning the firing of Ambassador Evans and the involvement of the Turkish government in his firing. READ LETTER
  10. Cosigned 2005 letter to President Bush urging him to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
  11. Cosponsored every Armenian Genocide resolution in the Senate, dating back to 1984.
  12. Support for Nagorno Karabakh's right to self-determination dating back to 1990.