Envoy’s status in Armenia probed

Envoy’s status in Armenia probed

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Members of California’s congressional delegation are questioning reports that the U.S. ambassador to Armenia is being recalled because he referred to the 1915 massacre of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as a genocide. In separate letters sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, and Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, the delegation demanded answers about Ambassador John Marshall Evans’ status. Both strongly opposed recalling him. Schiff said he reiterated that message last week in a closed-door meeting with State Department officials. “I expressed my opposition to any disciplinary action being taken against the ambassador for speaking the truth,” Schiff said. “I made it very clear I thought any action taken against him would merely compound the erroneous policy of the administration.” A State Department spokesman insisted that Evans has not submitted his resignation nor been told to return. That, however, hasn’t quelled persistent rumors in California’s sizable Armenian-American community. “It’s a big issue here. It’s very concerning and very upsetting,” said Zaku Armenian, a member of the Armenian National Committee’s board in Glendale. “The word that we have is pretty clear that this is in the works,” Armenian said about Evans’ recall. “It’s clear that the State Department is bowing to pressure from Turkey.” Evans attracted wide attention in Armenian-American communities last year when he unequivocally called the massacre of Armenians in post-World War I Ottoman Turkey a genocide. “I think it is unbecoming of us as Americans to play word games here,” Evans said in February 2005 during a stop at UC Berkeley. “I will today call it the Armenian genocide.” In doing so, Evans became the first U.S. administration official to use the loaded word in an Armenian context. The Bush administration, like its predecessors, refers to the killings as a massacre and a tragedy, but never genocide. Armenians contend the Ottoman Empire began a centrally planned slaughter in 1915 under cover of World War I in which about 1.5 million Armenians were killed. Turkey, a key U.S. and NATO ally, strongly opposes the genocide label. Tuluy Tanc, minister counsel at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., called the killing and deportation of Armenians “terrible events.” But, he said, it was precipitated by Armenians taking up arms and siding with invading Russian troops. “For genocide to occur, there has to be a plan to annihilate a people based on their ethnicity. That was not the case at all,” he said. Tanc called Evans’ comments “personal views” and not a reflection of U.S. policy. He said he did not have any knowledge about Evans being recalled. But Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, said the State Department already is quietly vetting a new ambassador to replace Evans by early summer. “I think it’s pretty clear he’s being ushered out the door,” Schiff said. Evans, for his part, has sidestepped questions about his tenure in Armenia. In response to a query during a press conference last week, he replied, “I serve at the pleasure of the president. Period.” [email protected] (202) 662-8731last_img

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