The Los Angeles Times reports that the Obama administration “is hesitating on a promised presidential declaration that Armenians were the victims of genocide in the early 20th century, fearful of alienating Turkey when U.S. officials badly want its help.”
The L. A. Times, in “Obama wavers on pledge to declare Armenian genocide,” says Obama and “other top administration officials” were to officially designate the 1915 killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide.
But the administration also has been soliciting Ankara’s help on Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other security issues amid Turkish warnings that an official U.S. statement would imperil Turkey’s assistance.
Administration officials are considering postponing a presidential statement, citing progress toward a thaw in relations between Turkey and neighboring Armenia. Further signs of warming — such as talk of reopening border crossings — would strengthen arguments that a U.S. statement could imperil the progress.
“At this moment, our focus is on how, moving forward, the United States can help Armenia and Turkey work together to come to terms with the past,” said Michael Hammer, a spokesman for the National Security Council. He said the administration was “encouraged” by improvements in relations and believed it was “important that the countries have an open and honest dialogue about the past.”
Armenian Americans and their supporters, however, say policies that avoid offending Turkey merely advance Ankara’s denial of brutal periods in its history.
McClatchy Newspapers said that Obama, while a candidate, “bluntly characterized” the deaths of Armenians.
“There was a genocide that did take place against the Armenian people,” Obama said during one filmed campaign appearance. “It is one of these situations where we have seen a constant denial on the part of the Turkish government and others that this has occurred.”
[Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton, while a senator, co-sponsored the Senate’s version of a genocide resolution. National Security Council staffer Samantha Power , a high-profile foreign policy adviser during the campaign, filmed a video specifically aimed at Armenian-American voters considering a vote for Obama.
Will the Obamakis and Bidenopoulos crowd swing into action on this issue and hold the President to account on the Armenian genocide issue? Will Bishop Savas, an ardent supporter of Obama, also ask for the new administration to keep its word on the Armenian genocide in his new role as head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Office of Church and Society? And, of course, Obama’s Orthodox Christian supporters — who will be deeply troubled by the Obama Administration’s waffling on the Armenican genocide declaration — will remind the administration of Turkey’s slaughter of Pontic Greeks. Won’t they?