Senator Robert Menendez raised the issue of the Armenian Genocide recognition during Thursday’s hearings at the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the Voice of America Armenian Service reported.
The senator addressed several questions to David Michael Satterfield, who has been nominated as the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, during the Senate hearings to consider the pending nominations.
Senator Menendez asked the candidate whether he acknowledges that around 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. In response, Satterfield said he is aware of that ‘atrocity’ and acknowledges that fact.
“And do you acknowledge it as a genocide?” the senator asked. “The U.S. president has stated this is one of the most horrific atrocities in the 20th century and I will abide by those remarks,” Satterfield replied, adding those remarks stand as a reflection of the U.S. government’s position.
“So, you won’t tell me whether it was a genocide? Let me ask you this: do you acknowledge that in 1915, the allied powers of England, France and Russia joined the issued statement explicitly charging, for the first time ever, another government of committing crimes against humanity and civilization?” Menendez asked.
In turn, Satterfield stressed that he is a historian and is well aware of the events of that time.
The senator went on to ask whether he acknowledged that Henry Morgenthau, the then US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, said that the Turkish government’s deportation order for the Armenians was actually an execution order for an entire nation. Satterfield responded that he is aware of that statement.
“So, this is a diplomatic dance that we do as a nation in which we don’t recognize the historical fact that even the U.S. Holocaust Museum, which is a quasi-governmental entity, acknowledges the fact of the Armenian Genocide, but we are incapable of mouthing the commons of an “Armenian Genocide”. And we cannot ultimately move to the future if we cannot recognize the past as a simple reality,” he stressed.
During the hearings, the candidate also touched upon the issue of serious human rights violations in Turkey and the country’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense systems.