Robert Menendez, chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee in the US Senate, said the United States now stands “on the right side of history” after Congress passed a resolution on April 24 recognising the genocide of the Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.
Recipient of the Grand Cross of the Order of Makarios III at the Presidential Palace on Monday, Menendez also met with members of the Armenian community of Cyprus, where he gave credit to President Biden who, unlike promises from previous US presidents, “kept his word on the recognition of the genocide.”
“It took us several attempts to pass it, despite significant influence from Turkey” to try and get it rejected in the US Senate.
The Senator from New Jersey added, “since [President] Biden got elected, the US has again turned to defending democracy and human rights.”
He said that the previous administration was “very transactional” and that under Donald Trump, “Azerbaijan got away with a lot.”
Since the conflict over Artsakh, Menendez said, “I worked very hard to get a series of (Armenian) prisoners released.”
He said the US relations with Turkey was “complicated”.
“Turkey still remains a member of NATO. But it cannot walk away from it all,” especially with the purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile systems.
“Turkey has not exhibited these values” of democracy and human rights. “There are more journalists and lawyers in jail than anywhere else,” Menendez added.
That is why, he said, the US has a powerful tool, such as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CATSA).
He said that disqualifying Turkey from the F-35 development programme is a big blow to Ankara, considering its aggressions in Greek and Cyprus territorial waters, “and continues to play with Azerbaijan and Libya”.
“Turkey under Erdogan is everything but what we aspired it to be.”
Addressing Menendez, the Armenian Representative in the Cyprus parliament, Vartkes Mahdessian, said, “the entire Armenian nation is forever grateful for all your efforts in recognition of the Genocide.”
“We recall your speech in Congress where you announced this historic decision with tears in your eyes.
“For your unwavering support and stance regarding Artsakh and your harsh criticism of Turkey over its violations in the Cyprus EEZ and the illegal reopening of Varosha, we remain indebted to you,” Mahdessian said.