May 30, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ardashes Kassakhian
tel: (818) 500-1918

“THE TIME IS RIGHT TO RECOGNIZE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE” SAYS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN EDWARDS

LOS ANGELES, CA – Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator John Edwards (D-NC), following a briefing from leaders of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region, this week spoke publicly and forcefully in support of issues of concern to Armenian Americans, stressing that, “the time is right to recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

ANCA-WR Chairman Raffi Hamparian and Board Member Steven J. Dadaian were joined by Judge Gregory Keosian, Attorneys Sahag Majarian and Zorig Mouradian in the private discussions with Senator Edwards on a wide range of topics including U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, U.S. assistance to Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh, and the search for a lasting and equitable resolution to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.

Hamparian briefed Senator Edwards in detail regarding Turkey’s campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide and its ongoing and illegal blockade of Armenia, which is in direct violation of international law and the U.S. Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act. Senator Edwards agreed that this “wrongful blockade” must end, stressing that the United States government should impress upon Armenia’s neighbors that, “we [America] stand fully behind Armenia.”

Following the private briefing and discussion, Senator Edwards spoke to the over 100 attendees at a reception co-hosted by Majarian. In his remarks to the audience, the Senator discussed the importance of setting the U.S. record straight on the Armenian Genocide and addressed Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia. The Senator explained that it is in America’s interest to recognize the Armenian Genocide, adding that, “It is the just thing to do. It is about time we [Americans] recognized it.”

“Throughout his tenure in the U.S. Senate, John Edwards has supported issues of concern to Armenians in North Carolina, here in California, and throughout the United States,” said ANCA-WR spokesperson Keri Derderian. “We appreciate his words of support and look forward to working with him in the coming weeks as he outlines his views in greater detail and expands his outreach to Armenian American voters.”

Last year, Senator Edwards signed on as one of 32 co-sponsors of Senate Resolution 307, marking the 15th anniversary of the U.S. implementation of the Genocide Convention (the Proxmire Act). A bill with similar language, House Resolution 193, was introduced this year in the House of Representatives and adopted by the House Judiciary Committee by a voice vote last week.

Senator Edwards is visiting California to garner support for his bid for the 2004 Democratic Party nomination for President. The North Carolina Senator was one of the first candidates to assemble an exploratory team and pursue support for his candidacy. The son of a textile worker, Edwards was the first member of his family to attend college, eventually moving on to earn his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Elected in 1998, the Senator currently serves on four committees: Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Intelligence; Judiciary, and; Small Business.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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