THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT OF THE PRESIDENT
On this solemn day, I join with Armenians throughout the United States, in Armenia, and around the world in remembering the 80th anniversary of the Armenians who perished, victims of massacres in the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Their loss is our loss; their courage a testament to mankind's indomitable spirit.
It is this spirit that kept the hope of Armenians alive through the centuries of persecution. It is this spirit that lives today in the hearts of all Armenians -- in their church, in their language, in their culture. And, it is this spirit that underpins the remarkable resilience and courage of Armenians around the world. The Armenian American community -- now nearly one million strong -- has made enormous contributions to America. Now, with the emergence of an independent Armenia, the Armenian people are bringing the same determination to building democracy and a modern economy in their native land.
Even as we commemorate the past -- which we must never forget -- we commit ourselves today to Armenia's future as an independent and prosperous nation, at peace with its neighbors and with close ties to the West. That is why the United States has provided more than $445 million in assistance to alleviate humanitarian needs and support democratic and economic reform. I will do everything in my power to preserve assistance levels for Armenia.
I continue to be deeply concerned about the conflict in the region surrounding Armenia. The terrible effects of this war have been felt throughout the Caucasus: tens of thousands have died, more than a million have been displaced, economies have been shattered, and security threatened. The United States is committed to working with the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to encourage Armenia and Azerbaijan to move beyond their cease-fire to a lasting political settlement. I plan to nominate a Special Negotiator for Nagorno-Karabakh at the rank of Ambassador to advance those negotiations. And I pledge United States support of OSCE efforts to back that settlement with a peacekeeping force.
The U.S. also seeks to encourage the regional cooperation that will build prosperity and reinforce peace. I commend the recent decision of the Government of Turkey to open air corridors to Armenia, which will make assistance delivery faster, cheaper and more reliable. We had urged that it do so and hope this is a first step toward lifting other blockades in the region, initially for humanitarian deliveries and then overall. Open borders would help create the conditions needed for economic recovery and development, including construction of a Caspian oil pipeline through the Caucasus to Turkey, which is a key to long-term prosperity in the region.
The Administration's efforts -- assistance in support of reform, reinforced efforts toward peace settlement, building broad regional cooperation and encouraging the development of a Caspian oil pipeline through the Caucasus to Turkey -- represent the key building blocks of U.S. policy to support the development of an independent and prosperous Armenia.
On this 80th anniversary of the Armenian massacres, I call upon all people to work to prevent future acts of such inhumanity. And, as we remember the past, let us also rededicate ourselves to building a democratic Armenia of prosperity and lasting peace.