Congressmen Pallone, Sherman Commend Armenian Ambassador Tatoul Markarian

Mariam Pashayan

AAANews Blog

July 8, 2014

On Thursday, July 3, 2014, Armenian Caucus co-chair Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) submitted a statement into the Congressional Record of the U.S. House of Representatives in dedication to outgoing Armenian Ambassador Tatoul Markarian. Markarian has been Armenia’s Ambassador in Washington since 2005. Before his appointment as Ambassador, Markarian was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2000-2005.

“Ambassador Markarian has dedicated his life to public service and the people of Armenia,” said Congressman Pallone. Pallone also mentioned their close working relationship in advocating Armenian issues stating, “Together, we have fought together for Congressional Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and foreign aid assistance to both the NagornoKarabakhRepublic and Armenia.”

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) also submitted a statement into the record to pay tribute to the outgoing Ambassador stating, “Dr. Markarian has been a crucial figure in fostering relations between Armenia and the United States.” Congressmen Pallone and Sherman praised the ambassador for being such a strong advocate for Armenia in the United States. Sherman also applauded Ambassador Markarian for his tireless efforts in securing a brighter future for Armenia and Artsakh stating, “He has been instrumental in securing increased humanitarian assistance from the U.S. to both Armenia and Artsakh, two struggling economies that are in great need of economic support.”

Congressman Pallone has represented central New Jersey in Congress since 1988. He is a senior member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and serves as the top Democrat on the Committee’s Subcommittee on Health. Congressman Pallone co-founded the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues in 1995 and serves as its co-chairman. Congressman Pallone has been to Armenia and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic numerous times and continues to advocate for U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide. Congressman Sherman has represented California’s San Fernando Valley in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997. Congressman Sherman is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as the senior Democrat on the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade. He is an outspoken defender of America’s ally Armenia and the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

Below are the full transcripts of the statements by Congressmen Pallone and Sherman:

Congressman Pallone: “Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor and thank Ambassador Tatoul Markarian for his service as the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States.

“A distinguished diplomat, the Ambassador has a long career in public service, having represented the people of Armenia both at home and around the world. Prior to his cur- rent position, he served as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Special Representative of the President of Armenia for Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations and as Ambassador to the Mexican States. Additionally, he served previously from 1994–1999 as the Deputy Chief of Mission for the Armenian Embassy in Washington.

“Before entering the Armenian Foreign Service, Ambassador Markarian served in the newly-independent Armenia’s legislative and executive branches.

“I am proud of the work we have been able to accomplish together while Ambassador Markarian has been stationed in Washington for the last nine years. Together, we have fought together for Congressional Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and foreign aid assistance to both the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Armenia. As the founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, I have had the honor of working closely on these issues for more than twenty years.

“Today, the U.S.-Armenian relationship remains critically important. Armenia has been a crucial ally in a strategic region of the world by extending robust support for the U.S. led peacekeeping deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo. Additionally, they have co- operated with the United States on a broad range of regional and security challenges. “This relationship has been stewarded and advanced by Ambassador Markarian during his time in Washington.

“Ambassador Markarian has dedicated his life’s work to our shared goals and the people of Armenia. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to him for his service here in the United States and offer both him and his family the best of luck as they move forward on to their next diplomatic posting.”

Congressman Sherman: “Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the distinguished service of His Excellency Tatoul Markarian, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to the United States of America.

“His Excellency Dr. Markarian is completing his term as Ambassador to the United States after nine years of service. Dr. Markarian has been a crucial figure in fostering relations between Armenia and the United States.

“As Armenian Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Markarian has been credited with creating closer ties with the United States by coordinating visits between the two countries’ government officials and diplomats. He has been instrumental in securing increased humanitarian assistance from the U.S. to both Armenia and Artsakh, two struggling economies that are in great need of economic support. This has been highlighted by Armenia becoming a competitive potential candidate for Millennium Challenge Corporation funding, which aims to reduce widespread poverty and strengthen infrastructure. Ambassador Markarian has also been largely responsible for coordinating improved bilateral talks between both countries, through the U.S.-Armenia Economic Task Force and Strategic Dialogue.

“Dr. Markarian has had a long career in public service. He served in the Republic of Armenia’s legislative and executive branches at a crucial time, during the Republic’s early years, first as assistant to the Vice Chairman of the newly created Armenian parliament, then as an advisor to the Vice President of Armenia and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister. During his tenure as Ambassador to the United States he concurrently serves as the Ambassador to Mexico.

“I commend his Excellency Dr. Markarian on his service and accomplishments. His service has strengthened the relationship between Armenia and America. I wish the best for him, his wife, and three sons in their future endeavors.”

The Assembly Agenda: This Week in Washington, D.C. – May 30, 2014

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By Taniel Koushakjian

May 30, 2014

HOUSE: The House was in session on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week but will be out all next week in observance of Memorial Day. The House will return on Monday, June 9.

The House Appropriations Committee has not yet scheduled a date to approve the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, which covers U.S. economic, humanitarian and military assistance to Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh, and Azerbaijan. It is most unlikely that the House will pass all 12 appropriations bills separately, as both time and history would predict. Add to that the fact that it is an election year, Congress will probably end up passing the SFOPS bill as part of a mini-bus or omni-bus spending package sometime before the month-long August recess. In early April the Assembly submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Committee outlining nine key priorities for U.S. assistance to Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh and Kessab Armenians. The full testimony is available here.

SENATE: The Senate is out on recess this week in observance of the Memorial Day holiday and will return on Monday, June 2. The Senate Appropriations Committee has also not yet schedule a date to approve the SFOPS bill for FY2015.

WHITE HOUSE: President Obama recently announced that he will release the Armenian Orphan Rug for public display sometime later this year. However, such a commitment has not been put in writing and no details of the event, such as time, date, or location, have been revealed. The Assembly welcomes this announcement and expects the President to honor his commitment and to release the rug for public display this year.

MAKING MOVES:

AMBASSADORS ROTATE – Former Prime Minister of Armenia, Tigran Sargsyan, is headed to Washington, D.C. as Armenia’s next Ambassador to the United States. He will soon replace Tatoul Markarian who has held the post since 2005.

– U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone, has been tapped to be the next Vice President of the Atlantic Council and will serve as the director of their Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, according to a press release. Ricciardone is slated to begin his new role in September. According to a report in Todays Zaman, President Obama is expected to nominate John R. Bass to replace Ricciardone in Ankara. Bass is currently the Executive Secretary of State and served as the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia from 2009-2012. 

OBAMA NOMINATES ARMENIAN-AMERICAN AS AMBASSADOR – On May 20, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination of Nina Hachigian to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). President Obama nominated Hachigian to the post in January. The author of several books on foreign policy, Hachigian previously served as a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress.

STAFF ROTATIONS On May 12, Max Gleischman, former communications director for Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), began his new job as director of communications and spokesperson for Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. A longtime supporter of Armenian American issues, Durbin voted YES, as a member of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), on S. Res. 410, the Armenian Genocide resolution, which passed the SFRC with bipartisan support on April 10, 2014.

Amit Jani, a legislative fellow in the office of Armenian Caucus member Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), is returning to her native New Jersey to work as a field representative for Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) in Long Branch.

AZERBAIJAN BRINGS ON MORE LOBBYISTS, SPENDS BIG IN 2013: In April, the Embassy of Azerbaijan hired former Massachusetts Congressman Bill Delahunt for strategy, communications and legislative outreach. According to the FARA contract, Delahunt “will hold internal meetings with client and foreign principal, will assist with strategizing and discerning appropriate U.S. government-relations strategy, and communicate with U.S. officials and possibly U.S. media.” Delahunt becomes the second hire for Azerbaijan in April.  The nonprofit Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan also hired APCO Worldwide last month for communications work. According to a recent report from the Sunlight Foundation, Azerbaijan spent $2.3 million dollars in 2013 to influence Washington, D.C., making it the 10th largest foreign spender in Washington. Delahunt left Congress in 2011 and was the first Massachusetts Congressman to ever vote against an Armenian Genocide resolution. Delahunt voted NO when the genocide bill came up in the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 2010, but it ultimately passed 23-22.

ELECTION WATCH: This week, voters in Texas’ 4th congressional district ousted Representative Ralph Hall (R-TX) in the Republican primary, who becomes the first incumbent to loose re-nomination this cycle. The dean of the Texas delegation and the oldest serving member of Congress (he’s 91), Hall is also the first Republican in Texas state history to loose re-nomination. Many people aren’t aware, but Hall was a friend of Armenia and supporter of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide. Here’s a photo of Congressman Hall with Assembly staff and constituents in his Rockwall, TX office on April 25, 2008.

DAYS UNTIL ELECTION: 159

ARMENIAN CONGRESSIONAL TRIVIA: Name the Senator who is retiring at the end of this year that previously introduced the Armenian Genocide resolution in Senate? The first person to correctly respond will get a shout out in the next edition of Inside the Assembly.

Send tips, suggestions, comments, complaints and corrections to taniel@aaainc.org. If you don’t already, please follow me on Twitter @Taniel_Shant and follow the Armenian Assembly of America @ARAMAC_DC