Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) leaders gathered with friends and supporters to honor U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) – a decades-long champion of Armenian American concerns, who led the historic 2019 battle to secure unanimous U.S. Senate recognition of the Armenian Genocide and continues his unwavering support for Armenia’s security and Artsakh’s freedom. Chairman Menendez has had strong ties to the ANC of New Jersey for decades and consistently receives an “A+” rating on the ANCA Congressional Report Card.
“Senator Menendez’s bold leadership and principled defense of human rights and American values have been a hallmark of his service in the House and Senate,” said ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian. “The ANCA has been with him every step of the way and looks forward to our continued work together.”
Mr. Garo Mardirossian, Esq. and his wife Yulia generously hosted the evening, which included special guest, His Eminence Archbishop Barkev Martirosyan, Holy Etchmiadzin’s Pontifical Envoy-at-Large and former Primate of Artsakh. Hamparian was joined by ANCA National Board members Zanku Armenian, Aida Dimejian, and Ani Tchaghlasian, who traveled from the Senator’s home state of New Jersey to offer a Garden State Armenian welcome to Chairman Menendez.
“I was honored to host Chairman Menendez at my home with a broad and distinguished cross-section of Armenian Americans,” shared Garo Mardirossian. “I am proud to stand with Chairman Menendez – who is firmly committed to working to strengthen U.S.-Armenia ties, defend Artsakh freedom, and secure justice for the Armenian Genocide,” stated Mardirossian. “With new challenges facing the United States and our Armenian Homeland, Chairman Menendez’s visionary leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is needed now more than ever to ensure that peace and justice prevail for Armenia and Artsakh.”
“Armenian Americans in the Garden State and across the U.S. stand with Senator Menendez in our collective pursuit for justice for the Armenian Genocide, self-determination for Artsakh, and stronger U.S.-Armenia ties,” said ANCA National Board Member Ani Tchaghlasian. “From his unstinting resolve to end U.S. complicity in Armenian Genocide denial to ongoing efforts to stop U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan, and block the sale of U.S. aircraft to Erdogan’s autocratic Turkey – Senator Menendez has been a champion for human rights and peace. We look forward to working together for years to come to advance Armenian American priorities and values.”
Senator Menendez’s tenacious resolve to end U.S. Senate complicity in Turkey’s Armenian Genocide denial culminated in the unanimous passage of the bipartisan resolution he authored in December, 2019. The Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.Res.150) established, as a matter of U.S. policy, 1) the rejection of Armenian Genocide denial, 2) ongoing official U.S. government recognition and remembrance of this crime, and 3) support for education about the Armenian Genocide in order to help prevent modern-day atrocities.
Senator Menendez has been equally adamant about enforcing Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan, initially adopted as part of the FREEDOM Support Act in 1992 in response to Azerbaijan’s blockade and attacks against Armenia and Artsakh. In June, 2020, alarmed that the U.S. military aid program to Azerbaijan had skyrocketed, Senator Menendez requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) provide the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a detailed report on this assistance program and its compliance with Section 907. The GAO report, released in March, 2022, revealed that the State Department consistently failed to inform Congress of the impact of over $164 million in assistance to Baku on the military balance between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
“The human consequences of the terrible war in Nagorno-Karabakh underscore the deep concerns that I have long had about providing U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan,” stated Sen. Menendez. “These findings are further proof that the status quo is unacceptable, and we must exercise additional scrutiny over the U.S. government’s ongoing provision of assistance to Azerbaijan. In the coming weeks, I will be renewing my efforts for the State Department to reconsider any future planned assistance to Azerbaijan, respect Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, and improve its reporting to Congress in the future.”
Senator Menendez’s stellar record of support for key community concerns began with his election as mayor in Union City in 1986 and continued during his time in the New Jersey State legislature from 1988 to 1992, and his 1992 election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, Senator Menendez often took the lead in questioning U.S. ambassadorial nominees to Turkey and Azerbaijan regarding their positions on the Armenian Genocide and efforts to mediate a lasting peace for the Republic of Artsakh. And, when nominees crossed the line into Armenian Genocide denial or showed undue bias toward Azerbaijan, Senator Menendez resisted White House and Senate leadership pressure, placing a “hold” on the candidates, ultimately blocking nominee Dick Hoagland from becoming U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, and stopping a full-term appointment for Matt Bryza as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan.