First published in March 21, 2009 Armenian Reporter
by Emil Sanamyan
Secretary Clinton calls Armenia
In the first high-level contact between the Obama administration and Armenian government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke by telephone with President Serge Sargsian on March 17, Mediamax reported the next day citing the president's office.
"They covered a wide range of topics, including our shared efforts to advance a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia's relations with Turkey, and efforts to catalyze domestic reforms inside Armenia," the State Department's Caucasus, Turkey, and Greece manager, Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Bryza told the Armenian Reporter.
The president's office specifically noted discussion of "programs of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation in Armenia." Mrs. Clinton chairs the MCC board, which on March 11 criticized the Armenian government's handling of domestic issues following the presidential elections last year. The board is due to review Armenia's continued eligibility again in the next few months.
Eligibility for MCC aid is based on complex scoring criteria reflecting countries' political, social, and economic performance.
State Department withholds comment on Genocide resolution
"We're looking at that resolution," the State Department's acting spokesperson Robert Wood said on March 18 when asked about the congressional Armenian Genocide resolution introduced the day before. "We obviously want to take a close look at it . . . and discuss it within the government"
The resolution is identical to the one introduced in the 2007-2008 Congress. It was at the time supported by then-Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. The Obama administration has not taken a direct position on the resolution, instead emphasizing the importance of the recent meetings between Armenian and Turkish officials.
In the March 17 briefing, Mr. Wood confirmed that the subject of the resolution came up in Mrs. Clinton's conversations during her visit to Turkey, but that he didn't "have any details about conversations that the Secretary had with the Turkish leaders beyond what I've said" and could not comment.
Coming up… Congressional advocacy and commemoration of Genocide
The annual Capitol Hill commemoration of the Armenian Genocide will take place on April 22 this year, co-chairs of the Armenian Caucus Frank Pallone, Jr. (D.-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) reported in a March 17 release.
"We invite Armenian-Americans across the country to gather with us on Capitol Hill as we solemnly remember the 1.5 million people brutally murdered 94 years ago," said Rep. Kirk. "With a new president publicly committed to recognizing the Armenian Genocide, we look forward to a meaningful commemoration by the Congress and the White House."
The traditional event features speeches by members of Congress and will be held in the Cannon Caucus Room of the congressional Cannon Office Building from 6 to 9 p.m.
From April 22 to 24, the Armenian National Committee of America will hold its third annual "End the Cycle of Genocide: Grassroots Capitol Campaign," which includes visits to congressional offices and meetings with their staff, and a protest outside Turkish Embassy in Washington.
For information on how to participate connect at www.anca.org.
Turkey to buy more combat aircraft from U.S.
Turkey will take delivery of 30 new F-16 fighter jets produced by Lockheed Martin Corporation, news agencies reported. The order is worth $797 million and planes would be locally built in Turkey by 2012. When initially negotiated in 2006, the deal for 30 aircraft was valued at $2.7 billion, but the price tag has since been repeatedly discounted.
Turkey already possesses 216 F-16s, produced in Turkey in the 1980s and 90s, and since partially upgraded. Starting 2014, in a deal worth more than $10 billion over 20 years, Turkey plans to take delivery of more than 100 F-35s, a new-generation combat aircraft currently under development by companies from the United States, Turkey, and seven other countries.