The Armenian American community prioritizes a broad array of public policy issues, ranging from the development of US-Armenia relations and American support for a just resolution to the Armenian Genocide to freedom for the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), and the welfare of beleaguered Armenian and other Christian communities in the Middle East.
The ANCA offers a variety of resources to help Members of Congress and staff understand and act on these concerns. We invite you to review the information provided below and reach out to our ANCA staff to discuss them further.
Kate T. Nahapetian, Esq., ANCA Government Affairs Director – firstname.lastname@example.org | (202) 775-1918
Raffi N. Karakashian, Esq., ANCA Legislative Affairs Director – email@example.com | (202) 775-1918
Armenian American Priorities (click on any topic to learn more):
The Armenian Genocide was the centrally planned and systematically executed deportation and murder of over 2 million Christian Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians, perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish Government from 1915-1923. Despite overwhelming documentation by historians and condemnation by over 25 countries worldwide, Turkey continues to enforce a gag-rule against truthful US reaffirmation of this crime.
ANCA Ask: President Obama should honor his campaign pledge to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide and Congress should enact legislation calling for a truthful and just resolution of this still unpunished crime.
- The Armenian Genocide Truth + Justice Resolution (H. Res. 154), introduced on March 18, 2015 and spearheaded by Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ), calls on the President to work toward equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey’s full acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity.
- The Armenian Genocide Resolution (S. Res. 140), a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, was introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Ed Markey (D-MA) on April 20, 2015.
Congressional Action (114th Congress):
- Senate and House letters to President Obama, urging him to honor his pledge to reaffirm the Armenian Genocide in 2015.
- Armenian Genocide Centennial Observance on Capitol Hill – April 22, 2015
- “America We Thank You” Capitol Hill Briefing – January 15, 2015
US & International Affirmation of the Armenian Genocide:
- Executive — The United States first officially recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1951 in a written statement to the International Court of Justice regarding the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and later by President Reagan in 1981. http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1981/42281c.htm
- Legislative — The U.S. House of Representatives adopted Armenian Genocide legislation in 1975, 1984, and reduced aid to Turkey in 1996 citing the Armenian Genocide.
- U.S. States — 43 of 50 States have recognized the Armenian Genocide through legislation or gubernatorial proclamation.
- International Affirmation — 25 Countries – including 11 NATO allies – and international bodies including the European Parliament and MARCOSUR have recognized the Armenian Genocide. FLAG ONE PAGER NEEDS UPDATING
President Obama and the Armenian Genocide: Despite his strong record as a U.S. Senate and his repeated pledges as a presidential candidate to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide, President Obama has, since taking office, enforced Ankara’s gag-rule against official US commemoration of this crime – even formally opposing Congressional efforts to reaffirm past U.S. affirmation of the Genocide. The ANCA has compiled a comprehensive review of the Obama record prior to his entering the White House. His annual
Near East Relief and US Humanitarian Assistance to Armenian Genocide Survivors: Under Congressional mandate, the US, between 1915 and 1930, embarked on an unprecedented humanitarian campaign providing the equivalent of over $2 billion in today’s dollars to help save Armenian Genocide survivors. Every US state did its part to support the humanitarian effort – documented thoroughly in state-by-state fact sheets prepared by the ANCA Western Region’s “America We Thank You” project. Learn more about the effort by visiting the ANCA Western Region’s “America We Thank You” campaign or by visiting the Near East Relief website.
- Fact Sheet: The Armenian Genocide Truth & Justice Resolution (H. Res. 154)
- Fact Sheet: The Armenian Genocide
- Map: Armenian Genocide deportation routes
- Trade Statistics: Despite Turkish threats, bilateral trade between Turkey and countries recognizing the Armenian Genocide has steadily increased.
- Learn more: Extensive resources on Armenian Genocide facts, affirmation, and education are available in the ANCA’s Armenian Genocide section on this site.
Return of Churches
The territory of present-day Turkey, encompassing the biblical lands of Anatolia and Mount Ararat – the famed resting-place of Noah’s Ark – is home to many of Christianity’s pivotal events and holy sites. Before 1915, the territory of modern-day Turkey was home to large, indigenous, and vibrant Christian communities, comprised of millions of Armenians, Greeks, Pontians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and Catholics. The Christian population in Turkey has been decimated through genocide and persecution. In the past century, over 1,500,000 Armenian Christians were murdered. Today, the persecution and dispossession of Christians continues and they account for less than 0.1% of Turkey’s population. Of the over 2,000 Armenian churches which existed in the early 1900s, only 38 remain open and active today. Christians cannot legally train clergy in Turkey and the Ecumenical (Greek Orthodox) and Armenian Patriarchates are prevented from formally owning and transferring property.
ANCA Ask: The President and Congress should put in place policies that, first, prevent the vast and ongoing destruction of Christian religious heritage within Turkey, and then initiate a sustainable process of restoring, to their rightful owners, all stolen Christian holy sites and religious properties.
- The Return of Churches Resolution (H. Res. 306 – 112th Congress), spearheaded by senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Ed Royce (R-CA) and the panel’s Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA), was overwhelmingly adopted by the House of Representatives on December 13, 2011. The resolution calls upon the government of Turkey to honor its international obligations to return confiscated Christian church properties and to fully respect the rights of Christians to practice their faiths in freedom.
- The Return of Churches Resolution (S. Res. 392 – 112th Congress), spearheaded by Senators Scott Brown (R-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Mark Kirk (R-IL), was similar to H. Res. 306, calling upon the government of Turkey to honor its international obligations to return confiscated Christian church properties and to fully respect the rights of Christians to practice their faiths in freedom.
- Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act (H. R. 4347 – 113th Congress), spearheaded by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member, Eliot Engel (D-NY) required the Obama Administration to submit annual reports on the status of stolen Christian churches and properties in Turkey and occupied Cyprus. The resolution was adopted with amendments by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on June 26, 2014.
- Fact Sheet: Why pass the Return of Churches Resolutions (H. Res. 306 / S. Res. 392)
- Fact Sheet: Why pass the Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act (H.R. 4347)
- Fact Sheet: Christian Persecution in Turkey WRONG DOCUMENT
- Fact Sheet: Early Christianity in the Lands of Present-Day Turkey
- Fact Sheet: Excerpts of USCIRF Report on Turkey (2014)
- Myths and Facts: Turkey’s Troubling Record of Restricting Religious Freedom
- Setting the Record Straight: A point-by-point rebuttal to the Turkish Embassy’s attack on H. Res. 306
The bonds of friendship and shared values between Americans and Armenians span more than a century. Americans of Armenian heritage have served the US in every war since the Civil War, and proudly serve today in every branch of the military. Since regaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Republic of Armenia has been a strong friend of America, sending troops to support US operations in Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mali, and Afghanistan. In addition, Armenia is regularly ranked highly by the Wall Street Journal / Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom, and met the Fiscal Year 2014 eligibility criteria for the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
At the same time, the people of landlocked Armenia, the world’s first Christian state, continue to face the devastating impact of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s dual economic blockades.
ANCA Ask: The Administration should actively promote the growth of US-Armenia economic relations by negotiating a US-Armenia Double Tax Treaty, hosting trade missions, and by other means, consistent with calls by Microsoft, FedEx, NASDAQ, and other firms doing business in Armenia.
- US-Armenia Economic Relations: Since regaining its independence in 1991, the US and Armenia have enacted a range of bilateral economic treaties and agreements including: Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), Bilateral Investment Treaty (1992), Agreement on Trade Relations (1992), Investment Incentive Agreement (1992), World Trade Organization Membership (2003), Permanent Normal Trade Relations Status (2004), Joint Economic Task Force (1999), and Trade and Investment Framework Agreement – TIFA (2015).
- US Aid to Armenia: Since the Armenian earthquake in December 1988, the US has sent over $2 billion in US assistance to landlocked Armenia to help address the devastating impact of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s illegal blockades. US assistance has played a vital role in helping alleviate these blockades (among the longest in modern history) and promoting Armenia’s free market system and democratic development.
- US-Armenia Military Cooperation: Armenia, a crucial ally in a strategic region of the world, has extended robust support for US-led peacekeeping deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Mali and Kosovo, and is cooperating with the US on a broad range of regional and security challenges. In June 2011, as countries were pulling out of Afghanistan, Armenia actually tripled its troop deployment there. Armenia had four times as many troops in Afghanistan per capita than Turkey and ten times more per capita than either Canada or France. Armenia signed a bilateral affairs agreement with the US Department of Defense and the State of Kansas in 2003, establishing the Kansas-Armenia State Partnership Program. In 2014, Kansas and Armenia expanded the effort by enacting the Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program, which has helped renovate the Darbas School, Darbas Clinic, Ashtarak hospital, Yerevan Elderly Institute #1, and the Yerevan Emergency Operations Center.
Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)
The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) is an integral part of historic Armenia that was arbitrarily carved out in 1921 by Joseph Stalin and placed under Soviet Azerbaijani administration, but with autonomous status, as part of the Soviet divide-and-conquer strategy in the Caucasus. During seven decades of Soviet Azerbaijani rule, the Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh was subjected to discriminatory policies aimed at its removal. In the late 1980s, the United States welcomed Nagorno Karabakh’s historic challenge to the Soviet system and its leadership in sparking democratic movements in the Baltics and throughout the Soviet empire.
On September 2, 1991, the people of Nagorno Karabakh declared independence from the Soviet Union and became the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. On December 10, 1991, Nagorno Karabakh held an independence referendum in which 82% of all voters participated and 99% voted for independence. In response, Azerbaijan launched an all-out war against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, targeting civilians and recruiting Islamic extremist mujahideen from Afghanistan and Chechnya to join the Azerbaijani army. In May 1994, the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia, and Azerbaijan signed a cease-fire agreement with mediation efforts through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, co-chaired by the US, France, and Russia.
ANCA Ask: The United States should formally recognize the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh), affirming its right to self-determination within secure borders. The US should expand the annual US assistance to the Republic to at least $5 million in US developmental and humanitarian aid to offset ongoing Azerbaijani aggression and a blockade in place since 1988. As Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the US should clearly and unequivocally condemn Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia and Artsakh.
- House FY 2016 Appropriations Bill on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: The bill, adopted by the House Appropriations Committee, maintains Section 907 restrictions on US assistance to Azerbaijan, citing its ongoing aggression against and blockade of Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh). The full House has yet to take action.
- Senate FY 2016 Appropriations Bill on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: The bill, adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee, includes report language urging continued US assistance to the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), stating: “The Committee recommends assistance for victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in amounts consistent with prior years, and for ongoing needs related to the conflict. The Committee urges a peaceful resolution of the conflict.” The legislators also approved report language stressing the importance of continuing and expanding de-mining efforts in the interior (non-border) regions of Artsakh, including in farmlands and residential areas previously considered off-limits. “The Committee recognizes that Nagorno-Karabakh has a per capita landmine accident rate among the highest in the world, and that mine clearance programs have been effective where implemented. The Committee is concerned with territorial restrictions placed on de-mining activities in the region and recommends continued funding for, and the geographic expansion of, such programs.”
Congressional Action (114th Congress):
- Congressional foreign aid letter to House Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) outlining Armenian American foreign aid priorities, March 25, 2015.
- ANCA Capitol Hill Briefing: “Nagorno Karabakh: A Generation After Anti-Armenian Pogroms, the Challenge of Promoting Peace and Developing Democracy,” February 11, 2015.
- ANCA testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs and before the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
- Statements Commemorating the Anti-Armenian Pogroms in Sumgait, Baku, and Kirovabad (1988 – 1990): Members of the Senate and House offered annual statements marking Azerbaijan’s attacks against its Armenian population.
- Section 907 Restriction on US Aid to Azerbaijan: In 1992, the US passed Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which limits assistance to Azerbaijan until it takes steps to “cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.”
- US Aid to the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (Artsakh): Since FY 1998, direct US aid to Nagorno Karabakh has represented a powerful investment in peace and an enduring expression of America’s leadership in supporting a negotiated and democratic resolution of security and status issues related to the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. This direct aid has met pressing humanitarian needs, providing, most recently, desperately needed clean water to families and the clearing of villages and farmlands of mines and unexploded ordnance.
- U.S. Legislation supporting Artsakh Freedom and condemning Azerbaijani Aggression:
- In July 1988, the Senate unanimously passed Amendment 2690 to the Foreign Operations bill, which called on the Soviet government to “respect the legitimate aspirations of the Armenian people” petitioning for Karabakh independence.
- The Senate, in November 1989, adopted S. J. Res. 178, expressing United States support for “the fundamental rights and the aspirations of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh for a peaceful and fair settlement.”
- With violence against Armenians continuing, the Senate passed S. Res. 128 in May 1991, which stated, “Soviet and Azerbaijani forces have destroyed Armenian villages and depopulated Armenian areas in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in violation of internationally recognized human rights” and called “for the end to the blockades and other uses of force and intimidation directed against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Nagorno Karabakh Peace Process: The Nagorno Karabakh Republic was one of the three parties to the 1994 cease-fire, which ended military hostilities between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan. In its aftermath, Nagorno Karabakh participated in the OSCE Minsk Group peace process as a partner, along with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Since 1998, however, at Baku’s insistence, Nagorno Karabakh has been unfairly and counter-productively excluded from the peace process. Nagorno Karabakh should, in the interests of peace and fairness, be a full participant in all talks regarding its future.
Javakhk (Samtskhe-Javakheti, Georgia)
Javakhk is a historically Armenian region in the southern part of the Republic of Georgia. The economic well-being, civic engagement, and social development of the Armenian population of Javakhk represent keys to a unified, independent, and democratic Georgia that both respects pluralism and promotes local self-government.
ANCA Ask: Our request, for the FY 2016 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill, is for at least 10% of a robust US aid package to Georgia be targeted to the Samtskhe-Javakheti region to support job-creation and poverty reduction programs.
- ANCA testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs and before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs requesting at least 10% of a robust U.S. aid package to Georgia be targeted to the Samtskhe-Javakheti region.
- Position Paper: Supporting Javakhk
Plight of Armenians and Other Christians in the Middle East
Armenians and other vulnerable civilian populations have been caught between warring sides in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East. These conflicts have created humanitarian crises for Armenian communities across the region. Within Syria, much of the historic Armenian community has been destroyed, with residential neighborhoods being bombed, churches desecrated, and individuals killed or kidnapped. Those who remain are working to save their community and serve the basic humanitarian needs of the most needy among them.
ANCA Ask: The ANCA requests that USAID address serious gaps in the delivery of need-based humanitarian aid within Syria which have left Armenians and other at-risk minority populations largely outside the stream of international assistance. The ANCA calls for increased US and international assistance to help Armenia settle the more than 17,000 refugees from Syria who have found safe haven in Armenia.
- House FY 2016 Appropriations Bill on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: The bill, adopted by the House Appropriations Committee, makes extensive reference to aid for refugees of the Syrian crisis, though falls short of citing specific assistance to Christians in Syria or Armenia. The full House has yet to consider the measure.
- Senate FY 2016 Appropriations Bill on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: The bill, adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee, addressed the ongoing crisis in Syria with a $195 million allocation for in-country efforts and additional funds for ongoing refugee assistance in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. The in-Syria assistance will also fund a “new program to build the capacity of Syrian diaspora-led organizations and local Syrian civil society to address the immediate and long-term needs of the Syrian people inside Syria.” Armenia was not identified as a specific target for assistance to help transition those fleeing the Syrian conflict, despite the fact that more than 16,000 have fled from Syria to Armenia. The full Senate has yet to take action.
Turkey’s Destabilizing Role in the Syria Crisis:
- Position Paper: Standing with Middle East Armenian Communities
Armenian Americans and US Foreign Aid Policy
The bonds of friendship and shared values between Americans and Armenians span over a century. Americans of Armenian heritage have served the US in every war since the Civil War, and proudly serve today in every branch of the military. Today, with the generous help of our Congress, the Republic of Armenia is a strong friend of America, sending troops to support our operations in Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mali and Afghanistan. Nagorno Karabakh, with the support of direct US assistance, stands today as a constructive partner in the search for a lasting peace in the Caucasus.
ANCA FY 2016 Foreign Aid Priorities:
- At least $5 million in US developmental aid to Nagorno Karabakh.
- Zero-out US military aid to Azerbaijan until it ceases its aggression, renounces violence, and commits to a purely peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.
- At least $40 million in US economic assistance to Armenia.
- In light of the March 2014 attack on Kessab, a special focus on the delivery of humanitarian and resettlement aid to Armenians and other at-risk minorities in Syria, as well as targeted aid to help Armenia settle thousands fleeing from Syria.
- At least 10% of US assistance to Georgia to be earmarked for job creation programs in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of that country.
- Language strengthening Section 907 restrictions on US aid to Azerbaijan.
- Ending the exclusion of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh from the peace process.
- House FY 2016 Appropriations Bill on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: The bill, adopted by the House Appropriations Committee, makes extensive reference to aid for refugees of the Syrian crisis, though falls short of citing specific assistance to Christians in Syria or Armenia. The bill remains silent on assistance to Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nagorno Karabakh. The full House has yet to consider the measure.
- Senate FY 2016 Appropriations Bill on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: The bill, adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee, addressed the ongoing crisis in Syria, and included report language setting specific recommendations for Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh, and Azerbaijan. Read full details in the ANCA release here. The full Senate has yet to take action.
Congressional Action (114th Congress):
- Senate: ANCA testimony (PDF) to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
- House: ANCA testimony (video / PDF) before the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
- House: Congressional Dear Colleague letter sent to Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) outlining Armenian American foreign aid priorities, March 25, 2015.
- Position Paper: Review the ANCA Position on Foreign Aid
- Position Paper: Standing with Middle East Armenian Communities
- Position Paper: Supporting Javakhk
- Fact Sheet: The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)
- Fact Sheet: Who is Aliyev? NEED LINK
- Fact Sheet: Azerbaijan – Destabilizing the Caucasus and Inciting Hate
- Fact Sheet: The OSCE Peace Process NEED LINK
- Map: Armenia and Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)