For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel: (202) 775-1918
LAZIO STAKES OUT STRONG POSITIONS ON ARMENIAN AMERICAN ISSUES
"I will not spend American money on Azerbaijan until the people of Nagorno-Karabagh have the power to choose their own destiny." -- NY Senate Candidate Rick Lazio (8/30/00)
WASHINGTON, DC – New York Senate candidate Rick Lazio (R-NY) today staked out strong pro-Armenian positions on issues ranging from U.S. assistance policy to the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, in his response to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Candidate Questionnaire.
The New York Congressman’s statement, which he provided today to
the Armenian National Committee of New York, reinforces his pro-
Armenian record in the House of Representatives. Rep. Lazio is
currently a cosponsor of H.Res.398, the Armenian Genocide
Resolution, and has called upon House International Relations
Committee Chairman Ben Gilman to move this legislation out of his
committee to the floor of the House of Representatives.
In September of 1998, the New York Congressman voted for the
Radanovich-Pallone Amendment to save the Section 907 restriction on U.S. aid to the government of Azerbaijan. In June of 1996, he
voted for the Radanovich-Bonior Amendment to reduce U.S. aid levels
to Turkey until the Turkish government abandons its campaign to
deny the Armenian Genocide. That same month, he voted for the
Visclosky Amendment to strengthen the aid sanctions on Turkey over
its blockade of U.S. humanitarian aid to Armenia.
Lazio’s Democratic opponent, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, has
received an ANCA Questionnaire, but has yet to make statements on
issues of special concern to Armenian American voters.
“We welcome Congressman Lazio’s strong statement of support for the issues that mean so much to New York’s vibrant and growing Armenian community,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “The Congressman’s statement today – like his track record over the years – reflects his friendship with Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh, and his standing as an ally of the New York Armenian community.”
Congressman Lazio prefaced his response to the ANCA Questionnaire by quoting from an endorsement letter he had received from an Armenian American Republican group:
“We need more Senators like Rick Lazio, who — in the tradition of former Senator Bob Dole — will place principle over pipelines, and the truth over political expediency.”
— Ara Bedrosian, Executive Board Member
National Organization of Republican Armenians.
The full text of the Congressman’s response to the ANCA Candidate
Questionnaire is provided below:
Question 1: U.S. Support for Armenia
Do you support targeting U.S. assistance to Armenia to promote
trade, long-term economic self- sufficiency, and democratic
Absolutely. Armenia is a country moving along the path
to democracy. I am proud to support Armenia because of
its important role in the region and its strong ties of
immigration and friendship with the United States. I
have carried this support with me into Congress. Along
with my Republican colleagues, I have strongly favored
continued foreign aid for Armenia and
I have voted for foreign aid to Armenia in HR 2606,
FY 2000 Foreign Appropriations, and in HR 4811, FY 2001
Foreign Appropriations 2001. I have fought to reverse
the drastic cuts in foreign aid to Armenia proposed by
the Clinton Administration. The White House wants to
slash funding for Armenia by 27%, but I will stand firm.
Through foreign aid and consistent support for the
developing countries of the former Soviet Union we will
forge a new, peaceful and democratic world order. I
understand that Armenia is recovering from economic
realignment that occurred as a result of the collapse of
the Soviet Union. Armenia’s GDP fell by 60% between 1991
and 1993. Armenia needs American assistance now, more
than ever, to ensure growth and stability.
We will work to strengthen the Armenian economy through
greater trade and government to government assistance.
Question 2: U.S. Support for Nagorno Karabagh
Do you support continuing U.S. assistance to Nagorno Karabagh as a
confidence-building measure designed to advance a negotiated
settlement of this conflict?
I unequivocally support continuing US assistance to
Nagorno-Karabagh. My record is outstanding on Armenia.
I have always voted, and will always vote, for
legislation to benefit the long-suffering people of
Nagorno-Karabagh. Since 1995, I have voted for all
provisions of Foreign Operations Appropriations Bills
that assist Armenia. The Foreign Appropriations Bill
for FY 2000 (HR 2606), which I proudly support,
includes special stipulations to help build peace and
confidence in the region.
Furthermore, I support HCR 382, introduced by Rep. Smith
(R-NJ), which calls for the Azeri regime to hold free
and fair Parliamentary elections in the year 2000.
Question 3: Conditions on U.S. Aid to Azerbaijan
Do you support the Freedom Support Act provision on U.S. aid to
Azerbaijan and will you oppose any efforts to weaken, waive or
eliminate this law until Azerbaijan has lifted its blockades and
ended its aggression against Nagorno Karabagh and Armenia?
We must never tolerate aggression. In the Senate, I will
make sure that the United States insists on a peaceful
and just solution to the struggle in Nagorno-Karabagh.
In 1998, I voted for the Radanovich-Pallone Amendment to
preserve Section 907 of Freedom Support Act, limiting US
aid to Azerbaijan, until Azerbaijan demonstrably takes
steps to eliminate its blockade on Armenia and Nagorno-
Karabagh. Section 907 is exactly the kind of legislation
I believe in.
We must never reward an aggressor. My record on these
matters is consistent. I strongly disagree with Secretary
of State Madeline Albright who, acting for the Clinton
Administration, pushed to repeal Section 907. We should
not sacrifice our nation’s principles.
I will not spend American money on Azerbaijan until the
people of Nagorno-Karabagh have the power to choose their
Question 4: Self-Determination for Nagorno Karabagh
Do you support Nagorno Karabagh’s right to self-determination
within secure borders?
Yes. Nagorno-Karabagh’s separation from Armenia in 1923
is a grim illustration of the Stalinist era. As long as
a decision for independence is peacefully and
democratically arrived at, I will strongly support it.
Self-Determination through free elections is a fundamental
human right that I believe in. In the United States Senate
I will work to make sure that we remain committed to
democracy in all parts of the world.
Question 5: The Armenian Genocide
Do you support, and will you participate in, Congressional
initiatives and resolutions to recognize and commemorate the
I am vividly aware of the horror of the Armenian Genocide
that took place during and after World War I. By the time
World War I had ended, more than 800,000 Armenians had been
killed. The massacres continued into the 1920’s.
Fortunately, some Armenians escaped, and a number settled
in New York. This laid the foundation for strong cultural
ties between the United States and Armenia – ties that
must be reinforced. In June of 1996, I voted for the
Radanovich-Bonior Amendment to cut foreign aid to Turkey
by $3 million a year until the Turkish Government confesses
its responsibility for the Armenian genocide. Furthermore, I
am a proud cosponsor of HR 398, the Armenian Genocide
Resolution, and encouraged Chairman Gilman to speed up
consideration of the bill.
I believe it is important for a nation to recognize the
oppression of others in the past. I have introduced
legislation recognizing the mistreatment of Italian
Americans in this country during World War II. The US House
of Representatives had the courage to admit that past
actions were wrong and passed this legislation. I hope a
Turkish Member of Parliament can step forward and do the
same for his nation.
My opponent, Mrs. Clinton, may believe that “Turkey has a
long history of religious tolerance” (Liberal Opinion,
4/15/96). I, on the other hand, insist that the Turkish
Government face up to its own history. The acknowledgment
of past crimes is a small step that can go a great way
toward healing old wounds. We should not countenance
Turkey’s failure to admit the truth about the genocide.
Question 6: The Turkish Blockade of Armenia
The Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, which became law in 1996,
prohibits U.S. foreign aid to nations, such as Turkey, which
obstruct U.S. humanitarian aid deliveries to a third nation. Do
you support enforcement of this law as a means of encouraging
Turkey to lift its blockade of Armenia?
I was pleased to vote for the Humanitarian Aid Corridor
Act, which limits US foreign aid to Turkey. I believe we
need to enforce laws passed by Congress. Unfortunately,
enforcement in general seems to have fallen out of favor
with the Clinton- Gore Administration. Turkey’s blockade
against Armenia has had a disastrous economic impact.
Blockages of humanitarian assistance are completely
unconscionable and should be condemned.
Attempts by Armenia to negotiate with Turkey to end this
blockade have stalled time and again: a peaceful settlement
of differences is critical for this landlocked nation. This
illustrates the need for better use of America’s diplomatic
muscle. During her weeklong trip to Turkey last year, Mrs.
Clinton never once bothered to mention that Turkey’s
blockades prevent US humanitarian relief supplies from
Question 7: U.S. Arms Sales to Turkey
Do you support creating links between U.S. arms sales and transfers
to Turkey to that nation’s ongoing blockade of Armenia, continued
occupation of Cyprus, mistreatment of the Kurds, unfair
restrictions on Christian communities, and worsening human rights
I would consider establishing links between US arms sales
to a country, and that country’s humanitarian record. The
continued occupation of Cyprus creates instability in
NATO’s southern flank. Persecution of any minority group,
including the Kurds and Christian communities must not be
The ANCA questionnaires were sent to over 1,000 Congressional candidates throughout the country, including Congressman Lazio’s opponent, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. The ANCA’s election year voter education campaign helps inform Armenian Americans about the policy issues impacting Armenia, Nagorno Karabagh, and the Armenian American community. The campaign also provides timely and
reliable information on the records and views of the candidates seeking Armenian American votes, while encouraging increased civic participation in local, state, and national elections.