Washington, DC — In a powerfully worded letter to two of his leading Armenian American supporters, Republican presidential hopeful Texas Governor George Bush acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, called on Americans to join with him in remembering the crime committed against the Armenian people, and pledged as President to ensure that the United States properly recognizes this terrible atrocity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Governor Bush’s letter, addressed to Michigan community activist Edgar Hagopian and New York businessman Vasken Setrakian, who attended Harvard with the Governor, also called for continued U.S. aid to Armenia, encouraged a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict, and praised the “tremendous contribution of the Armenian community to the United States.”
“We welcome Governor Bush’s principled stand on the Armenian Genocide and join with him in calling upon all Americans to acknowledge both the facts and lessons of this crime against humanity,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We would like, as well, to voice our community’s gratitude to Vasken Setrakian and Edgar Hagopian, both of whom have done so much to share with Governor Bush the issues of pressing concern to our community. We appreciate their leadership and value their contribution to expanding the voice of Armenian Americans in the political process.”
Governor Bush’s rival for the Republican nomination, Arizona Senator John McCain, has yet to speak out on Armenian issues. He has remained silent, in particular, on the Armenian Genocide, despite having received an unprecedented number of postcards from Armenian Americans as part of the ANCA’s million postcard campaign to leading presidential candidates – including Governor Bush, Vice President Al Gore and former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.
The two hundred thousand postcards addressed to Sen. McCain ask him to explain his vote in 1990 against former Senator Bob Dole’s Armenian Genocide resolution and, more recently, his 1999 vote to lift the Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan, despite Azerbaijan’s failure to lift its blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. (For more information on the ANCA postcard campaign, visit http://www.anca.org.)
In a September 1998 speech in the U.S. Senate, McCain attacked a Congressionally approved ten million dollar aid package to the American University of Armenia as an “objectionable program,” and a “serious diversion of scarce resources otherwise needed for truly worthy programs.” (For more information on this speech, visit http://mccain.senate.gov/frop99ap.htm.)
Provided below is the full text of Governor Bush’s letter.
George W. Bush for President
February 19, 2000
Mr. Edgar Hagopian
Mr. Vasken Setrakian
Dear Edgar and Vasken,
Thank you for your inquiry to my campaign regarding issues of concern to Armenian Americans.
The twentieth century was marred by wars of unimaginable brutality, mass murder and genocide. History records that the Armenians were the first people of the last century to have endured these cruelties. The Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension and commands all decent people to remember and acknowledge the facts and lessons of an awful crime in a century of bloody crimes against humanity. If elected President, I would ensure that our nation properly recognizes the tragic suffering of the Armenian people.
The Armenian diaspora and the emergence of an independent Republic of Armenia stand as a testament to the resiliency of the Armenian people. In this new century, the United States must actively support the independence of all the nations of the Caucasus by promising the peaceful settlement of regional disputes and the economic development of the region. American assistance to Armenia to encourage the development of democracy, the rule of law and a tolerant open society is vital. It has my full support.
I am encouraged by recent discussions between the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The United States should work actively to promote peace in the region and should be willing to serve as a mediator. But ultimately peace must be negotiated and sustained by the parties involved. Lasting peace can come only from agreements they judge to be in their best interests.
I appreciate the tremendous contribution of the Armenian community to the United States. The Armenian community has been and will continue to be a model of dedication to values of faith and family.
George W. Bush