Tiburon, CA, July 20, 2008 - Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told an audience at a fundraiser for Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) that the United States should press Turkey for accountability regarding the Armenian Genocide. Berman said he wanted the U.S. to have good relationship with Turkey, but that the U.S. should lead Turkey in recognizing the history of the Armenian Genocide. "It's part of what friends do," Berman said.
In an earlier discussion with Bay Area ANC representatives, Berman said, "I'm from a background where you don't brush things under the rug. You deal with them and move on."
Berman, who recently met with Armenia's Foreign Minister, said the U.S. also should do more to help end the Turkish blockade of Armenia, which cuts off a major avenue for manufactured goods to reach Armenia through Turkey. The result is not good for the U.S., he said. "We're pushing a friend into the hands of Russia and Iran."
Berman is a member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues and a co-sponsor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. As Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he recently held a hearing questioning administration officials about U.S. policies towards the Caucasus region, including Turkey's blockade of Armenia.
Rep. Woolsey and Rep. Berman spoke about their work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, seeking to broaden U.S. assistance programs to Africa, as well as improve US policy towards Iraq, Iran, and the rest of the Middle East.
"Our committee will have an effective, balanced, progressive, coherent approach," Berman said, who said he believed the U.S. cannot be effective around the world when its policies produce world-wide hatred and violate international law.
This month, President Bush signed into law a measure by Rep. Berman eliminating a government-imposed stigma against association with the African National Congress of South Africa. As a result, the United States will remove from its databases any notation characterizing the ANC and its leaders -- including Nobel Laureate and former South African President Nelson Mandela -- as terrorists.
Berman has also recently introduced legislation devoting more high-level attention and funding to the plight of Iraqi refugees, as well as a bill calling on the government “to strengthen its leadership role” in response to the genocide in Darfur and urging the departments of State and Homeland Security to facilitate the resettlement in the U.S. of Darfuri refugees.
Berman was a member of the California State Assembly from 1973 to 1982, when he was elected to Congress representing parts of the San Fernando Valley in the Los Angeles area.
Armenian National Committee