In a few hours, the U.S. Senate will vote on Bush’s Ambassadorial nominee to Armenia. We predict that Marie Yovanovitch will be confirmed. And the question is whether the previous nominee was denied because of not using the word genocide or because of being gay.
Making clear that she can’t use the word ‘genocide’ in referring to the Armenian extermination of WWI due to Bush’s foreign policy not to use the term, ambassadorial nominee Marie Yovanovitch’s Senate hearing became quite stressful last week.
She will most likely get the Senate confirmation given her honest hint that ANY Bush nominee would follow the order not to use the term genocide. Yet it wasn’t easy to deliver this message.
A photo posted (surprisingly) by the State Department sponsored Voice of America’s Armenian page, shows Marie Yovanovitch cleaning her nose during the hearing. More interestingly, the Armenian report refers to the Armenian genocide without quotation marks – something that U.S. State Department officials are not allowed to do themselves.
While it seems like Yovanovitch will be confirmed as the Ambassador despite that she follows her employer’s orders, one wonders whether the Genocide issue was the decisive factor in previous nominee Richard Hoagland’s failure to get the confirmation.
On January 12, 2007, the Armenian-language Hayastani Hanareptutyun (Republic of Armenia) wrote of some concerns in Armenia about Hoagland’s open homosexuality. According to the newspaper, the editor of Armenia’s Azg Daily, Hakob Avetiqyan (Hagop Avedikian), said during a press talk seating along with an ARF (Dashnaktustyun leader):
«Շատ անխոհեմ նշանակում էր սա՝ անկախ ցեղասպանության հարցից։ Անխոհեմ, քանզի Հայաստան, որտեղ ավանդապաշտությունը բավական կարեւոր գործոն է, ուղարկել մեկին, որը ոչ ավանդական սեռական կողմնորոշում ունի, չի բխում նաեւ Միացյալ Նահանգների շահերից»։(This was a very inconsiderate appointment [nomination] despite the question of the genocide. Inconsiderate, because sending somone who doesn’t have traditional sexual orientation to Armenia – a country where tradition-worshiping is a quite important factor – is not in the interests of the United States.)
As unzipped reported last year, Armenia’s anti-Semite and homophobic leader of “Armenian-Aryans” Armen Ayvazyan thanked those who ““freed the Armenian nation from the sad perspective of having a sick Ambassador, who was also denying the reality of the Armenian Genocide.” While Ayvazyan is not, to say the least, a popular figure in Armenia, Azg Daily editor’s open announcement that it is not a good decision to send a homosexual ambassador to Armenia seems worrysome.
Indeed, the editor was seating next to one of the leaders of the ARF (known as ANCA in the U.S.), the organization which heavily campaigned against the Hoagland nomination in 2007. This year, interestingly, ANCA hasn’t been actively campaigning against the new nomination. One reason might perhaps be the recent image-damaging violent post-election protest in Armenia. The new ambassador might be a compromise for continuous U.S. assistance to Armenia despite the recent poor democratic record.
Hoagland’s G-factor still seems important. Was it his refusal (without another choice) to say “genocide” or him being gay that cost him his job? Or maybe because tensions were high given the firing of Ambassador Evans – the only U.S. official in the Bush administration who openly recognized the Armenian Genocide?