At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Jul. 13, Ambassador-Designate to the Republic of Armenia John A. Heffern said it is an honor to appear before the committee as the president’s nominee to be the US Ambassador to Armenia. “We welcome this opportunity to again serve our nation overseas.”
“If confirmed, I will build upon the fine work of my predecessors to advance our bilateral relationship with Armenia in all its facets: diplomatic, political, economic, trade, and in our deep people-to-people ties,” he said.
Heffern’s statement drew examples of US relations with Armenia, noting the the US has “expanded development assistance to Armenia in several areas, especially in governance, economic growth, and market competiveness, and maintained overall funding levels despite budget cuts in Europe and Eurasia.
“If confirmed, I would like to work on expanding the US-Armenia trade relationship, building on the already strong connections between Americans and Armenians, to foster more trade and investment between our countries.”
The Ambassador-Designate then cited US engagement in human rights and democracy in Armenia, particularly citing as a positive development the fact that Armenian authorities granted amnesty and released opposition activists imprisoned in connection with the events of Mar. 1–2, 2008, in Yerevan.
Heffern also notes that the US supports the Armenia-Turkey rapprochement, as well as the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh through its representative in the Minsk Group.
“There is still a lot to do. If confirmed, I would continue the efforts of my most able predecessor, Ambassador Masha [Marie] Yovanovitch. I will seek, as she did, opportunities to enhance our relationship with Armenia, should the Senate confirm me for this position,” he said.
Heffern concluded his statement by weighing in on US President Barack Obama’s position regarding the Armenian Genocide: “President Obama has recognized and deplored the horrific events that took place in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. He has publicly called the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians at this time one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. The President has urged Turkey and Armenia to work through their painful history to achieve a full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts. If confirmed, I will do my best to fulfill the President’s vision.”