GeriGündem Clinton welcomed by US Armenians
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Clinton welcomed by US Armenians

Clinton welcomed by US Armenians
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WASHINGTON - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state seems to have been met with approval by both Turkey and Armenia, with the largest U.S. Armenian group and Turkish officials welcoming the decision.

The Armenian National Committee of America, or ANCA praised Clinton’s record as a strong supporter of the Armenian cause, in a statement late Monday. However, the ANCA made no mention of Clinton’s opposition to the passage of a resolution in the House of Representatives in October 2007, when she cited concerns of a strong Turkish reaction.

"We extend our thanks to President-elect Obama for this choice and our congratulations to Senator Clinton on her appointment to our nation’s top diplomatic post," said Aram Hamparian, the ANCA's executive director, according to the statement.

"We are certainly pleased to see that, for the first time in recent memory, an individual with a strong record in support of Armenian genocide recognition will serve as America’s secretary of state," Hamparian said.

Obama announced earlier Monday, he would nominate Clinton, his former rival during the Democratic Party's primaries for the presidential election, as his secretary of state. Clinton first needs the Senate's confirmation to assume her new post. She is not expected to face any difficulty with that process.

Turkish officials are also happy with Obama’s overall cabinet choice, although for different reasons.

"We have very good relations with these three figures (Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. James Jones). We believe Obama is forming a very good national security cabinet," said one Turkish official on condition of anonymity.

Turkish officials see Clinton as an experienced and centrist figure with a positive understanding of Turkey.

What happened last year?
Like Obama, Clinton, during the primaries earlier this year, pledged to recognize the 1915 incidents in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide", if she were elected president. Clinton has also co-sponsored every resolution in the senate since coming into office in 2001.

But her position was different late last year. On Oct. 7, 2007, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution, sending it for a potential floor vote.

Turkey reacted strongly, withdrawing its ambassador to Washington and warned that the legislation's passage in a full floor vote would hurt the U.S.-Turkish relationship in a major and lasting way.

At a meeting with the Boston Globe's editorial board Oct. 10, Hillary said she had qualms about supporting a similar measure she co-sponsored in the senate, according to a Globe article on Oct. 12.

She told the Globe’s editorial board that Turkey's opposition had been stronger than anticipated and that congress should proceed with caution. Eventually President George W. Bush's efforts forced the house leadership to shelve the resolution.

Although both Obama and Clinton have pledged to recognize the Armenian claims, the ANCA, which has now congratulated Clinton, viewed Obama as the more sincere candidate on Armenian matters and decided in late January to back him against Hillary in the primaries.

In addition, Hillary's husband and former president, Bill Clinton, due to last-minute pressure, prevented a similar resolution from passing in a house floor vote in October 2000.
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