J. Dennis Hastert
Fourteenth District

Speaker's Press Office
United States House of Representatives
Washington D.C.

CONTACT: 202-225-2800
October 19, 2000
John Feehery or Pete Jeffries

Regarding the Armenian Genocide Resolution

(Washington , D.C.) Speaker Denny Hastert released the following statement today:

"Because the President has raised grave national security concerns, he has requested that the House not consider H.Res.596, Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution. I have acceded to this request.

I support this resolution and I supported bringing it to the floor. I believe that the Armenian people suffered a historic tragedy and that this resolution was a fitting condemnation of those events. But the President of the United States, the Commander and Chief of our Armed Forces, has asked us not to bring this resolution to the House Floor.

The President believes that passage of this resolution may adversely impact the situation in the Middle East and risk the lives of Americans. This is not an idle request. We all know that the situation in the Middle East is unusually tense. The cease-fire now in place between Israel and the Palestinians is fragile. The Congress, while it has a right to express its opinions on critical issues of the day, also must be cognizant of the consequences of those opinions.

The President has made plain his very strong concerns about the timing of this resolution and its possible impact on our interests in the Middle East. We must take these concerns into consideration, especially given the latest developments in the Middle East.

This is a bipartisan resolution that I believe would have enjoyed support among the majority of the House. Every patriotic American should heed the President's request. Current circumstances dictate that we proceed with caution, and for that reason, I have asked the Majority Leader to take H.Res. 596 off the schedule for the remainder of the 106th Congress. The President's letter is attached.

October 19, 2000

Dear Mr. Speaker:

I am writing to express my deep concern about H. Res. 596, dealing with the tragic events in eastern Anatolia under Ottoman rule in the years 1915-1923.

Every year on April 24, I have commemorated Armenian Remembrance Day, mourning the deportations and massacres of innocent Armenians during that era. And every year, I have challenged all Americans to recommit themselves to ensuring that such horrors never occur again.

However, I am deeply concerned that consideration of H. Res. 596 at this time could have far-reaching negative consequences for the United States.

We have significant interests in this troubled region of the world: containing the threat posed by East and Central Asia, stabilizing the Balkans, and developing new sources of energy. Consideration of the resolution at this sensitive time will negatively affect those interests and could undermine efforts to encourage improved relations between Armenia and Turkey -- the very goal the sponsors of this Resolution seek to advance.

I fully understand how strongly both Turkey and Armenia feel about this issue. Ultimately, this painful matter can only be resolved by both sides examining the past together.

I urge you in the strongest terms not to bring this Resolution to the floor at this time.



Bill Clinton

The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-1314
Washington, DC 20515-1314