Latest:

‘Democratic, Prosperous, and Secure’: An Interview with Ambassador John Heffern

click for more

Armenian Weekly Assistant Editor Nanore Barsoumian conducted a phone interview with U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern on Dec. 17, as he was wrapping up his tour of Armenian communities in the U.S. Below is the full transcript of the interview.

Amb. Heffern

Amb. Heffern

***

Nanore Barsoumian—How would you assess your first year as ambassador in Armenia?

Ambassador John Heffern—It’s been a tremendous experience for me and my wife. We’re not experts on the region, so in many ways we did not know what to expect. We’ve had a number of very, very pleasant surprises in our time there. First of all, how warm and hospitable the people are, and how much they want to be partnered with the West, the United States, Europe, the E.U. [European Union], even NATO. They do a lot with NATO, which was a big surprise to me. So that was my first surprise—that they’re very Western-oriented, and warm and hospitable to us as Americans and as ambassadors.

The second surprise was to me a very pleasant one. It was that the information technology [I.T.] sector is tremendously successful, growing 20 percent a year, with 15 percent job creation, and that U.S. partners are a key part of that success. So U.S. companies are there, U.S. I.T. companies are there from all over the country, doing some very important transformative investments. There are obviously some challenges there, which we can talk about.

N.B.—That brings us to the next question, which is about the challenges. You’ve been very involved in the cultural, social, and political life in Armenia. What are, in your opinion, some of the challenges facing the country, and how can the U.S. government play a helpful role?

J.H.— One challenge, that is a challenge that we are all trying to address, is that there is a rather widespread sense of fatalism and apathy about the system—that it is hard to change things. I think this is very debilitating for reform there. And that’s what we are trying to do, to work with our partners to bring about positive change, and to counter this feeling of fatalism, that nothing will ever improve or change. What we’re trying to do is to develop partnerships with organizations, with NGOs [non-governmental organizations], with agents of change in the ministries, in the political parties, in the press—and obviously the diaspora communities have been hugely important in this effort as well—to push for these kinds of partnerships, to push for positive change, to push for this Western look that we’re trying to accomplish. To be using the young people, and using our exchange alumni, working with them to generate this feeling of confidence and optimism that Armenia can succeed as a democracy, a prosperous country, a secure country, and that they can do something to help that success.

The regional challenges are well known, of course. The United States is absolutely committed to get Turkey to do the right thing on the protocols, and open that border. Secretary [Hillary] Clinton visited Armenia twice in her time as Secretary of State—the first visit since James Baker visited in 1992. For 18 years, no Secretary of State had visited, and she has visited twice. She has been very vocal publically and privately that the ball is in Turkey’s court to implement, to ratify the protocols, without any linkage to Nagorno-Karabagh, that they’ll sign without that precondition, and it’s wrong for Turkey to do that linkage. So getting that Turkish border opened is a huge challenge and it will be very important for Armenia; it will help Turkey, as well, in terms of trade and people-to-people contact.

The third, of course, is a peaceful resolution to Nagorno-Karabagh, which has been very debilitating to the whole region. The violations are a problem. The focus on the military is bad for all the countries in the region. So through the Minsk process—the United States is one of the co-chairs of the Minsk process, with France and Russia—we’re absolutely committed to finding a peaceful solution to the problem, and we’re pushing the parties—Armenia and Azerbaijan—to find such a resolution.

N.B.—And what sort of a solution do you envision for Nagorno-Karabagh?

J.H.—Well the solution, the parties are going to have to come up with the solution. The big powers are not going to impose it—I don’t think. I’m not the negotiator so I don’t know all the ins and outs, but obviously I follow it very carefully. The co-chairs are not trying to impose a solution. We’re just offering language, we’re offering solutions, we’re offering principles, we’re offering confidence-building measures, and a whole menu of different approaches to encourage the parties to be creative to find a solution. The solution is going to be agreed on by both sides, and that’s what so hard about it, because there’s no trust now. Everything is considered to be zero-sum; a gain for one is considered a loss for the other. And so we’re trying to be creative, and we’re trying to push the parties to be creative, define some kind of a resolution that will allow this to be resolved peacefully, because there is no military solution here at all. The only solution is a peaceful one. Another war or any kind of military action is not going to solve this problem.

N.B.—The Aliyev government, however, has upped its warmongering rhetoric vis-à-vis Karabagh. Just recently, in August, when Hungary repatriated Ramil Safarov—the man who was convicted of axing to death an Armenian lieutenant during a NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace program in Budapest—to Azerbaijan, he was released, promoted, and received all sorts of gifts. The impression in the Armenian-American community is that the U.S. reaction has not been forceful enough. What are your thoughts?

J.H.—Well, those are two separate questions. On the Safarov pardon—the extradition by Hungary and then the pardon and, as you described, treating him as a hero when he returned to Baku—the U.S. was strongly critical of that. Within 24 hours, the very next day, Secretary Clinton and the White House both condemned it. President [Serge] Sarkisian and the foreign minister were very appreciative of that. After our statement, after we led the way, the Europeans, and a number of other Western partners, NATO and others, criticized the action following our lead. I think our statement on the Safarov affair was strong, and did identify who the parties were that took the unwarranted actions: Budapest and Baku.

The first part of your question, though, on the general hostile rhetoric and the other actions related to Nagorno-Karabagh more specifically, the Minsk process and the three co-chairs were mediators in this process, and so what the mediators do is they identify areas where there are problems and things that are hurting the atmosphere and holding back on the possibility of a solution, and we are publicly at the presidential level criticizing the rhetoric, the arms sales, the violations, and a whole host of things that are happening that are hurting the peace process, and we criticize those in a balanced way in public. Sometimes those specific things are more relevant to one capital or the other, and we’re much more frank with them in private discussions as to who has done what and who needs to take more action in which area. But the public statements are in fact balanced statements because we are mediators in the process and our goal is to push the parties toward a creative solution.

N.B.—My next question—which I’m sure you’ve heard quite a bit about—is TIFA, a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. Recently, U.S. based companies applied to your embassy, calling on the Obama Administration to prioritize U.S.-Armenia economic relations. The Armenian National Committee of America, the Armenian government, as well as the American Chamber of Commerce, have also requested such a step. What are your thoughts on the issue? Do you think such an agreement will come to fruition anytime soon?

J.H.—Well, we are prioritizing economic relations. We are absolutely committed to deepening our economic relations and pushing more trade, and pushing more investment to deepen those economic ties. We have now a very active and high-level agency formed to work on economic issues. It’s a broad agenda, it’s trade, investment, and cooperation. So it’s the full agenda, it’s inter-agency on the U.S. side, a high level inter-agency. It’s high level on the Armenian side. We had the plenary session most recently in October. In addition to the plenary we also have working groups. We have the energy working group, the trade working group, and the investment working group, who meet more than once a year, each through either DVCs, video conferences, or face to face when there’s travel back and forth. We feel that this form does allow us to have the kind of conversations that we need to have with the Armenian government on these issues: trade, investment, business climate, and cooperation. So we think the form that we have is a good one.

In fact we have received, as you said, a number of letters from really key U.S. investors, suggesting that a TIFA might be a better format, and we’re obviously considering that. We’ll work with Washington to determine what the best format is. But I would just say that the format that we have now includes USTR [U.S. Trade Representative], includes all the U.S. agencies, so it is just a matter of a different format; it’s not much different in terms of substance. So we’ll explore the TIFA, the bilateral tax treaty, there were a number of things referred to in this letter. We’ll continue to work with Washington to see if any of these instruments might improve our dialogue, or improve the atmosphere with Armenia.

But I do want to say one thing, that what’s holding back trade investment is not the format. It’s not a matter of the process. It’s the business climate in Armenia. It would be unfortunate if this idea that our trade relationship would be better if only we had a TIFA…if it were used by authorities in Yerevan to take the pressure off of them to improve the business climate. What’s holding back our trade investment is lack of transparency in the tax system and the customs system. American investors I’ve heard in these two weeks of the diaspora tour, American investors are very disappointed because of the lack of transparency, and problems that they’ve had that have not been treated fairly in the courts. It’s the court system, it’s the customs system, it’s the business climate in Yerevan, frankly, that is holding back the trade investment. It has nothing to do with the format of the meetings or different kinds of treaties. So we’re exploring those treaties, and we’re exploring the formats. I appreciate the letters that we got, and the input from these companies are important, but I don’t think that’s the real issue. The real issue is the business climate in Yerevan.

N.B.—The 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is approaching. The U.S. government has avoided using the term “genocide” so far. As we approach the centennial, do you expect that this policy will change?

J.H.—The president’s statement, the Remembrance Day statements, are strong statements. He acknowledges the facts—1.5 million Armenians massacred and marched to their deaths in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. It’s a strong statement. How the U.S. government characterizes those terrible events is a policy decision for the Washington policymakers, elected officials at the highest levels, not for the embassy in Yerevan, and not for me. So I will follow my instructions on this one and will take it one day at a time.

N.B.—You Tweet often about your activities in Armenia. What are some of the highlights of your personal experiences in Armenia?

J.H.—The highlight of a personal experience is again this warm welcome that we’ve received from the Armenian people, first of all. Second, the talents and the creativity of the Armenian people is very exciting to see. We’ve been to more musical performances in our one year there than in 30 years of foreign service. There are all sorts of jazz clubs, philharmonics; the ballet troupe has gotten started again; Rudolph, a diasporan ballet dancer from the United States, has come back to Yerevan to get the ballet troupe restarted. So their cultural side is very active, and it is very exciting to see. The other thing that we’ve enjoyed—my wife Libby and I—is getting around Armenia. We’ve driven all around. We like to go to the festivals: we’ve been to the honey festival in Berd; the khorovadz festival in Akhtala; the Areni wine festival, of course, is a well-known festival. We encourage people who come to Armenia to experience life outside of Yerevan. Yerevan is a wonderful city but getting outside of Yerevan, and going to these festivals and seeing what these people in these small towns and villages are doing is very exciting. So the first thing is the hospitality, and the second is the culture, the talents of the people, and the third is getting out of town and going to these festivals and seeing what’s happening in the region. Obviously some challenges are there for sure, but seeing how these resilient, talented people are dealing with their difficulties is very refreshing.

N.B.—As you conclude your meetings with Armenian communities, what are your impressions? Could you talk about the messages that you will take back with you?

J.H.—There are two main messages that I will take back with me: First…about Turkey and history, and Nagorno-Karabagh. The diaspora obviously has well-informed and strong views on all of these issues, and I will report back to my authorities in Washington when I leave New York later this week. But I’ve also heard a number of things here that I will take back to Yerevan. Those are about the business climate, about American citizens who have faced legal processes that are non-transparent, in many peoples’ views, and unfair. And the impact that those kinds of actions have on investment and trade in Armenia; the business climate issue—I’ve heard a lot from investors here who have had some bad experiences, who do not want to invest in Armenia anymore even though they are absolutely committed to Armenia’s future and success. There are a number of stories that I need to take back with me to Yerevan, to demonstrate to the authorities there that with some bolder reforms—they’ve made some reforms, and I try to encourage more than criticize—I think there’s great potential for Armenia to succeed as a democratic, prosperous, and secure country. We’re going to continue to do that, so my message to them is: Make the changes necessary to take advantage of these opportunities of this really committed Armenian-American community that wants to help this country succeed. I think with some bolder reforms they will really be able to take advantage of some real opportunities.

38 Comments on ‘Democratic, Prosperous, and Secure’: An Interview with Ambassador John Heffern

  1. This article by Hetq sums up Ambassador John Heffern true intentions along with his masters.

    U.S. Ambassador Heffern: ‘Armenia is a long trip to nowhere’

    http://hetq.am/eng/opinion/21636/us-ambassador-heffern-%E2%80%98armenia-is-a-long-trip-to-nowhere%E2%80%99.html

  2. Translation: Armenia’s current system is highly corrupt. Their leadership is more imnterested in using their positions for ammassing great personal wealthy instead of helping the country at large, IE; Kacharian and Sarkissian alike, at the expense of everyone else..

  3. avatar gaytzag palandjian // December 19, 2012 at 10:42 am // Reply

    I rather think the ambassador is quite different from the previous ones.he is down to earth for one thing,hopeful and positive,rather than pessimistic and optimist. Like he says -and I very much hope , also will do -encourage our people in RA /Artsakh to do better,improve and help improve the economy ,above all.
    I suggested in a previous such debate-discussion on this Forum the >/
    establishment of a U.S. automobile industry in Ra.
    There were talks-rumors several yrs ago that either Ford or GM might be the ones to invest. The ex-soviet YERAZ pick up truck mfg/maker could be re opened and CREAT MUCH NEEDED JOBS AS WELL.
    A small rather than a bigt U.S. car,with the novel hyebrid type would to good.

  4. During his two public appearances in Watertown, MA, Amb. Heffern consistently skirted the questions and comments put to him. He tried to appear sincere but he did not succeed.

    I also do not like his technique of having the audience bundle 3 questions at a time to him. It allows him even more to skirt questions. By the time he gets around to answering the question or comment, the audience has forgotten the substance of the questions and the power of the question has disappaited.

    I also do not think that ambassadors should be allowed to give individual presentations like this any more. They should be part of a panel with Armenian Americans (not soft core ones either) so that they can be confronted immediately, and so that the audience can hear our side in order to put things into context.

    I felt the same way when TARC’s David Phillips spoke to Armenians. What right do these people have to inflict their pro-Turkish propaganda on us without our having a chance to respond?

    And please, let us dispense with “written questions” in which the pro-establishment Armenian host gets to put tough questions in the wastebasket.

  5. Besides his remark: “U.S. AMBASSADOR HEFFERN: ‘ARMENIA IS A LONG TRIP TO NOWHERE’” (which might be true…) everything he mentioned was true. If the leadership was less corrupt and incompetent Armenia would have been in a much healthier economic and demographic position. We have three corrupt stooges cutting each other’s throat for a presidential post. Even the Army is run by business owned fat generals. God preserve us from a war because this time the Azeris will beat the sh•t out of us.
    Armenia’s position is difficult no question about that but corruption is choking us!!

    • this is what you wrote a little while ago at Asbarez:

      {AraK says: September 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm
      Azeris are much clever than our useless government. I think the diaspora should stop helping Armenia and try to solve its own problems. We are losing our time with these oligarch crooks who are bleeding Armenia. Actually not much blood has remained…
      Aliyev is right. Soon Armenia will be empty of her people and all the Azeris will have to do is just walk in and conquer. Our government and all the rest of the gang are busy trying to win the elections to suck the remaining blood from our “dyingland”.
      Very sad.}

      Chocking ‘us’ ?
      Who is ‘us’ ? would that be us AzeriTatarTurks pretending to be an Armenian ?

      btw: Under the leadership of those supposed ‘stooges’, NKR & RoA crushed and ejected AzeriTatarTurk invaders from NKR and historic Armenian lands.
      They have kept the Azeri US$3 Billion @ year war machine out of Armenian lands for 20 years. Al that with US$400 million defense budget.

      Who is the real stooge ?

  6. Excellent questions Nanore. Thank you for sharing the answers. One question I would have asked: Since Ambassador Heffern cares so much about Armenia-outside Yerevan, why is it that the US has cut-off the Millenium Challenge grant, which was supposed to help pave the roads outside Yerevan?

  7. This is as desperate damage-control as I have seen. Suddenly, Ambassador Heffern grants (I wonder whether the newspaper or Heffern’s staff initiated the interview) an interview gets effusively positive about Armenia and Armenians.
    The US fired its former ambassador (John Evans) to Armenia for “misspeaking” (he recognized the Genocide). I wonder whether Heffern would be fired for telling the truth about US’s stance toward Armenia.

  8. Amb. Heffern’s response to the first question pretty much sums up how much the US values Armenia. He states: “We’re not experts on the region, so in many ways we did not know what to expect”. If the US was interested in advancing relations with Armenia there would have been someone more experienced in his place.
    I also agree that corruption is killing any hopes for the future growth of Armenia. For this issue, I believe the Armenian public should hang in public all Armenian officials that are highly corrupt to send a clear message to people deciding to take public office in Armenia. All the money stolen from the people of Armenia needs to return. This might not be “democratic”, but then again what is.

  9. Thought welcome, the US economic and technical efforts that Heffern brags about are really a way of lulling Armenians into thinking that the US state department’s efforts are benign at root.

    Economic efforts cannot be totally separated from the political.

    Moreover, such efforts are a way for the US to connect to Armenia and thus bring Armenia closer to the west. I am not against a balanced relationship by Armenia, lest it begobbled up by Russia, but Armenians need to be aware of the politics underpinning this.

    The Armenian media has done a crappy job in pointing this out during Heffern’s visit, except in one instance: Berge Jololian letter in Hetq.

  10. Dave

    Dave, what do you expect from an Embassador ?
    To tell the truth or offer their private opinion of any problem ?

    All Embassadors are trained to express NOTHING with a LOT of words ! And not only the Embassadors, each foreign member of any Embassy has to act like this, if he wants to succeed in his job. One can only use these people to mediate the governments opinion to their government.

  11. The fact that Heffern points out that the Armenian government has a lot of problems, such as corruption, does not mean that Heffern and the US State Dept. have benign intentions towards Armenia. Any idiot knows that of the corruption over there (as well as here, in the US, in the American government).

    The State Dept. simply wants to use Armenia as a doormat as it is the one country in the Caucasus that is standing in the way of a NATO takeover of the Caucasus. The US is pushing Turkey to use Armenia as a doormat to wipe its feet on.

  12. Dave,

    You are 100% correct in what you are saying,this is exactly what I meant when I said the Armenian Media has done such a bad job in explaining all this to its readers.

  13. First, I appreciate Nanore’s questions and reporting to the general community. The most important message, whether we want to hear it or not, is improving the business climate in Armenia. This is the key to reversing the emigration problem and creating hope within our talented emerging generation. ” Climate” leads to investment which leads to employment which leads to stability. It is. The number one issue in Armenia and if we care about Armenia as much we purport then it. S hold be the number one issue for the diaspora. In the absence of a future, pursuing justice for the genocide becomes merely an historical correction ; rather than a reconciliation of the past and an inspiration for the future. The corruption in Armenia, real or perceived, is a value schism with the diaspora. It depresses our idealism about what the motherland is and should be.

  14. Someone please ask why the USA needs the second largest embassy ever built in a small country like Armenia?

  15. avatar gaytzag palandjian // December 19, 2012 at 9:25 pm // Reply

    Once again, I do hope the Ambassador succeeds in encouraging,not only our businessmen-midgets as compared to U.S. Giants- but also from U.S. especially, to make BIG investments.Did I mention automobile manufacturing?
    I believe I did and what´s more there really was talk about GM or Ford,don´t quite recall which one ,that was contemplating to set up shop and make cars in Armenia. Now, that would really help the ecomoy.Cell phones and even soft drink plants don´t require much personnel ,what´s more these latter take in rather give out profits to the people…..
    Food mfgin is also quite good,i.e. staple food …not so much potatoe chips or chocolate bars, but like cereals etc.
    Indeed there are more important good products that the U.s. is ordering in China and India-who knows perhaps in great Turkey as well.Could´t our people in those trades help start such U.S. industries in Armenia or at the very least have some made in armenia with U.S. Govt. investments….

  16. Yes there are issues in Armenia. But there are also great things going on. I was at ArmTech and the IT industry is growing 20% a year and will be a major influence in the changes of Armenia in the next 10 years.

    Check out http://www.iTechnology.am a digital magazine we launched this month and read about the good positive things going on.

  17. Thanks Todd. While we must be commited to solving the problems, let us be inspired by the improvements. The IT sector growth reflects many exciting attributes… Education, investment, employment, creativity and hope.

  18. I think those here who say “Heffern is right; Armenia is in bad shape” but who fail to mention that the US has malevolent ulterior motives and is using many incentives to undermine Armenia KNOW that they are only telling a portion of the story. Thank you, Dave, for clarifying that.

  19. avatar Berge Jololian // December 28, 2012 at 3:19 am // Reply

    For two decades, the US State Department acted in the most counter intuitive manner in its foreign policy towards Armenia. The routine goes something like this:

    Turkey blockades Armenia’s Western frontiers for 20 years, the US State Department puts additional pressure on Armenia to capitulate.

    The International Association of Genocide Scholars repeatedly calls on Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, the US State Department fires its ambassador to Armenia for uttering the word genocide.

    The International Monetary Fund evaluated Armenia’s loses due to Turkey’s hostile border closure at the tune of US $1 billion per year, the US State Department lowers US “aid” to Armenia each year to its now current meager $40 million.

    According to the warped logic of the US State Department foreign policy, if country A (Turkey) closes its borders with country B (Armenia), Protocols are needed to apply pressure on Armenia to open borders.

    If the US State Department does not succeed in convincing Turkey to stop its billions of trade with Iran; then the US State Department flexes its muscles to arm-twist Armenia to stop its economic survival-dependent trade with Iran.

    Extreme Islamic terrorists attack US Embassies in the Arab world, the US Embassy in Christian-Armenia goes on high security alert.

    The US State Department and Europe have done nothing substantive about Turkey’s blockade of Armenia.

    No reason exists, therefore, to believe the West will ever truly press Turkey on that issue. Historically, the US and Europe have done nothing for Armenia as it faced massacres and genocide – betraying and breaking promises and leaving Armenians prey to Turkey.

    Why should Armenians believe the US State Department now?

    Is Ambassador Heffern so confused with the geography of Armenia that he does not see Turkey’s (“a staunch US and NATO ally”) genocidal and economic blockade on Armenia’s Western frontiers – that he wants Armenia to look to the West and deepen cooperation with NATO?

    * The US SD provided Georgia with US $1+ billion per year for the past 5 years, compared to a meager US $40 million to Armenia with all kinds of conditions and strings attached. US $40 million for a country? Last month winner of the lottery in MA was US $500 million (and that 1 person).

    * When questioned during the Q&A session at one of his presentations, he agreed that if the blockade is lifted (which the US SD tacitly supports) then Armenia;s economy will be astronomically much better.

    * For those of you who do not understand how genocide is carried out, please, read the following:

    When Armenians are forced to seek economic survival elsewhere outside their natural environment, language, culture, customs, etc. due to economic hostile border blockade – that is actually genocide. (i.e. Turkey economic blockades preventing land access across Turkey to the West, as well as Georgia’s hampering of transit routes across its territory to Europe & the Russian Federation).

    A coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. To bring about the disintegration of the political and social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.

    A Turkish newspaper columnist, Mustafa Ozfatura, voiced an open threat of genocide, saying “we will make sure that the number of the Armenians in Armenia becomes as much as a museum statistic, as we did in Turkey. Armenians will only be found in museums”

    • Berj:

      Excellent compilation of US foreign policy vis-a-vis RoA.
      Should be saved by all for future use in our infowars with our adversaries.

      Regarding what you heard Amb. Heffern say to the boy.
      There is no doubt in mind that the Amb. thinks that privately, but I find it astonishing that he would be that careless to publicly say it.

      I know politicians oftentimes say things when they think the mike is off, and are caught. But Heffern knew he was in public.

      If there are other witnesses or a (smartphone) recording, we can make hay.
      But you being the only eyewitness will not do: Heffern will deny it.
      Your word against his.

  20. Mr. Jololian is right on the money. Turks haven’t given up their dream of erasing Armenia from the map.
    Ambassador Heffern’s slip of the tongue exposed his thinking and that of his masters–the malicious and mendacious US State Department.
    His predecessor–John Evans–courageously acknowledged the Genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey. Unlike Mr. Heffern, his words were not a slip of the tongue. For his courage, the honorable diplomat was kicked out by the State Department. The latter might now fire supercilious Heffern for inadvertently exposing State Department’s attitude toward Armenia.

  21. While I mainly want to wish my Armenian-American friends who read the Armenian Weekly a Happy New Year, I’d also like to put in a positive word for John Heffern, who in my estimation is doing a fine job as the US Ambassador in Yerevan. I wasn’t in the room when he said something to the effect that Armenia is a long flight on the way to nowhere, but I can well imagine his meaning to have been that, for Americans, it is not possible (or advisable) to go to Iran, and it’s not possible to cross directly to Azerbaijan. Certainly he never meant to say that the Republic of Armenia is “nowhere!” Just look at how he has taken to the job, traveled outside the capital, danced with a flash-mob, and learned some of the language, more than I ever did in my time there. So let’s give the guy a break!

    • avatar Berge Jololian // January 1, 2013 at 12:49 am //

      It is not about Mr. Heffern per se, it is about the failed US State Department policy – 20 years of counter-intuitive and counter productive policies towards Armenia.

      Armenians are not fooled with a dance in the streets of Yerevan. What else has the US SD offered Armenia, besides infamous-TARC, failed-Protcols, and genocide denial?

      Instead of a dancing in the streets of Yerevan, perhaps the US SD can speak up against Azeri aggression (cease fire violations and shorting at civilians) across the border in north-west Armenia.

  22. Please read this article which effects Armenia very badly.[Turkey furthering US-Israeli agenda in Mideast: Gordon Duff]
    Gordon Duff is a Marine Vietnam veteran, a combat infantryman, and Senior Editor at Veterans Today. His career has included extensive experience in international banking along with such diverse areas as consulting on counter insurgency, defence technologies or acting as diplomatic representative for UN humanitarian and economic development efforts. Gordon Duff has travelled to over 80 nations. His articles are published around the world and translated into a number of languages. He is regularly on TV and radio, a popular and sometimes controversial guest.

    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/12/30/press-tv-turkey-furthering-us-israeli-agenda-in-mideast/

  23. Ataturk’ order to his generals, particularly Kiazim Karabekir, and I quote: “Destroy Armenia politically and physically.”

    What do you suppose that means today, Mr. U.S. Ambassadors?

  24. avatar gaytzag palandjian // December 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm // Reply

    A short of halucination prophecy,rather than a serious (war correswpondent) reporting. There is no measured and balanced -two side evaluation-here.He mentions Axerbaiajn vaguely .That country is not to be counted as just past war against NK /RA showed,incapable of being a regional force-power.Right next to it there are two others,Iran,that has better striking power,as well as little Armenia,plus indeed others on the other side of great Turkey,who still have scores to settle, such as Greece and Bulgaria.Above all, he totally by basses or overlooks the Northern Bear that is silently observing, not to say monitoring all that goes on in the region. Not that I wish to convey ,I side with one or other,but when you begin to analyse such issues , all sides ought to be taken into consideration.
    Hopefully none of thsoe mentioned in his prophecies will not come to pass ,but if it does, then the scenario to be acted there would have the other ADDITIONAL actors to consider as well.

  25. The art of diplomacy as one British diplomat put it ,its who, who lies better wins the day.

    This is the same scenario,two US ambassadors trying their utmost to convince the Armenian nation of good US intentions,but the facts on the ground speak louder,the fact that US has the biggest and most sophisticated embassy in the region in Yerevan speaks volumes,apart from the fact that US is heavily involved in Syria,and elsewhere in the region.

  26. avatar gaytzag palandjian // January 1, 2013 at 11:56 am // Reply

    The First day of the year 2013,for Armenians both in Homeland and its Diaspora ought to be a day to look FWD,rather than backward.
    We must deicde to accomplish more important feats.Above all try to meditate and plan ….if we are determined to bring the WORLD (at least most part of it) to recognize a terrible fate that was befallen our nation,our worst tragedy in memory,that of the Genocide perpetrated upon us by Ottoman and Kemalist Trukey. We should sit down and plan a strategy that WILL WORK this time over.
    1. Get ALL of our Human Resources together-I modestly ¨suggest¨ formation of more than 5 (that we already have)Professional Colleagues Assoc.exactly 10 more fields. When these are formed throughout our Diaspora Townships,have deleages Elected for their MERITS(as I have outlined, not by money spending)The political parties indeed to follow their methods of Electing theirs and the Sipirtual sector likewise.But the majority ,the thick ,if you will of our people at present are ACTIVE IN PROFESSIONS.
    2.Through aforementioned establishment and maintenacne of a National Investment Trust Fund. Nucleus of which ,w/working capital by our billionaires,followed down by millionaires , hundred thousand dollars INVESTORS(note ,this is not to cross w/All armenia Fund which is an open end one.This one is an Invewstment Trust Fund.All the way down to a Hundred dollar investors. Once this is ahieved …
    3.First and Fporemost organize Repatriation(for you guidance again the Armenian mindset it Multi -facet,i just leeanred couple days ago that in RA they have started Repat.com or a. which just plans,but does not give concrete (please forgive me ,Guidelines and aconcrete approach to it) I am all for joining up with these gpood people.But they must accept that we ahave a permanment Diaspora and the American .S.American Euro armenian will not invest in a Moscow based or Yerevan based enterprise.
    I ahve indicated geneva CH-Switzerland a neutral tAX free countrey where from Mosoc to argentina Singampour armenians can invest.We must learn to compromise ,wor in TEAMWORK..
    4.The Fund ,once formed and growing will firs t of all loan,LOAN not give away , to those who wish to Repatriate amounts of $50.000.00 upwareds,,,against mortaged property in armenia and Artsakh at low interest for 10 year periods.
    This can only be worked by TEAMWORK< from all over. but goiung through a crystalization mOde like I have always indicated into PCA´s ,electing their boards, then from these to each Community country Central counil on to Superme council of Diaspora in 5 Ept.s.A. Legal Politicla in strasbour, Execiutive in NY, Economic in Geneva, Social Servicesa and Repatriation organizing in Moscow, and spifritual in st. Etchmiadzin in conjunction with the Great <House of Cilica…
    Or we do it or sit pretty and be satisfied with our 160 yr old Sahamantrutyun and present establishements(with due respect and thanks to the,m.May they gpo on with success too) But a Dynamic Diaspora we ahve with the Froce of the PCAS and their Ecomic Pwer we can achievem MUCH(o)
    Hama haigaagani SIRO,

  27. We should thank Mr. Heffern. Through his slip of the tongue, he exposed the US State Department’s not-so-covert attitude toward Armenia. This is the diplomatic version of “the truth from the mouth of babes.”
    Many American-Armenians are in denial about their government’s policy toward Armenia. The cunning but failed Protocol scam, the failed TARC, continued failure to acknowledge the Genocide (despite a tonne of American-originated evidence) should help American-Armenians reach the correct conclusion and not be willingly hoodwinked by their government.
    One might ask “what should American-Armenians do?” The answer: “Something other than what they have done.”

  28. Berge,

    I totally agree with you about 20 years of failed and devious US policy towards Armenia.US policies towards Armenia are all about imposing their puppet government and implementing their agenda in the area.Anyone who thinks its not the case must have his brains tested.Under US policy Armenians can forget about Artsakh,Genocide acknowledgement and justice and accept to be a small province of Azeri/Turkish axis.

    The US has not lifted a finger to stop the blockade by NATO ally Turkey,under Bush it made Armenia a terrorist state,has not warned the Azeris to stop shooting and threatening Armenia,has cut aid year after year,instead has piled pressure on Armenia to give in to sinister US designs in the area.

    US policies stink.

  29. Amb Evans:

    Happy New Year to you and yours. Best wishes.

    Regarding Amb. Heffern: as you had also noticed, a US Ambassador can dance in a very public place in Yerevan with his lovely wife Libby, mixing with crowds of complete strangers.
    Amb. Heffern has also visited many other public places in Armenia with his wife, such as the Barbeque contest-fest held in Armenia’s Lori region.
    Again, mixing with crowds of complete strangers.

    Completely at ease and having no concern for any safety issues. Why wouldn’t he feel completely safe in public in Armenia ? He is an honored guest. And Armenia’s people have nothing but warm feelings for Americans (at the personal level).

    Yet the “thanks” RoA got was this:
    The quote below is from US Embassy Yerevan official website.

    [September 13, 2012
    Yerevan, Armenia - All U.S. citizens overseas, including U.S. citizens residing in Armenia, are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and good situational awareness in light of recent attacks on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. The U.S. Embassy in Armenia has no specific information to indicate that these events will affect security in Armenia. The U.S. Embassy in Armenia is observing normal working hours.]

    Note that Armenia was one of the very few countries to be so listed very early.

    What was the purpose of this advisory – other than to publicly denigrate Republic of Armenia ?
    What does (Christian) Armenia have to do with events in (Muslim) Egypt and Libya ?
    When was the last time an American was harmed in RoA ?

    (I am sure you know about our unarmed American sailors being attacked and beaten by Anti-American Islamist Turks for the crime of being Americans last July 2012 in Antalya: were there any security bulletins issued advising Americans about their safety in Turkey then ?

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/Default.aspx?pageID=238&nID=25769&NewsCatID=341)

    Of all the countries in the world, Armenia is one of very few, where radical Islamist troublemakers or terrorists would be allowed to take residence – to put it mildly.

    And Amb. Evans, I wish you would give Armenians in general and Armenian-Americans in particular more credit: as Mr. Jololian wrote above, we can differentiate between a person and a policy.

  30. We should all thank Amb.Heffern profusely for allowing inadvertently the US policy gene out of the bottle towards Armenia.

    Happy New Year to all of you.

  31. Dear Avery,
    The honorable Ambassador Evens can’t answer that question, last time he spoke about the truth he was dismissed, as a “right” Ambassador in Armenia

    Mr. Heffern already admit during his interview, that he is an American agent in a foreign country!!

    Ambassador Evans character will live in Armenian history, especially in Armenia, for ever!

    Happy New Year and best wishes for AW, in 2013!!

  32. The comments above represent one of the very few places in the Armenian American press where Ambassador Heffern’s remarks have been subjected to critiques.

    Sadly, most of the Armenian media has been uncritical.

    As one who attended one of Heffern’s presentations, I propose that State Department people, and the like, never be allowed to speak before an Armenian American audience unless the presentation is part of a PANEL DISCUSSION in which knowledgeable Armenian Americans – not lackeys – take part.

    It is unfair and counterproductive for any pro-Turkish, pro-Azeri propagandist to be able to have his way with an Armenian audience and, in essence, lie to them, propagandize them, not answer their questions directly, and generally frustrate and anger them.

    Why, one wonders, are propagandists and genocide deniers given such free reign by our community?

    Let such people be immediately confronted by Armenians on the same stage.

  33. I would like to compliment Armenian Weekly for allowing such free comment on sensitive articles and also posting the comments so promptly which isn’t the case with other papers.

    Well done

  34. avatar Haig Erzumanian // January 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm // Reply

    Mr. Heffern is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip. Diplomacy is the art of saying “Nice doggie!” till you can find a rock.

    Mr. Heffern is made up of three ingredients: TARC, Protocols and on-going genocide.

    The US State Department and Armenia relations are summed up in 20 years of hostile blockade of Armenia’s western frontiers by a staunch US and NATO ally. 20 years of active prevention of genocide recognition in the US Congress and worldwide. 20 years of silence on Azeri aggression and weapons supply. Silence on destruction of Armenian cultural monuments (Nakhichevan). Silence on Georgia’s hampering of access trade routes by a US ally and major US aid. 20 years of pressure on Armenia to abandon trade with its southern neighbor while Turkey has a waiver. 20 years of granting US green-cards to hundreds of thousands to immigrate out of Armenia.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

*