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Turkey Urges Obama To Block Armenian Genocide Bill


Turkey -- Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addresses the media in Ankara, 05Mar2010

Turkey -- Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addresses the media in Ankara, 05Mar2010

Just hours after recalling its ambassador to Washington, Turkey urged the U.S. government on Friday to thwart further progress of a draft congressional resolution that describes the mass killings and deportations of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide.


Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also warned President Barack Obama against using the word “genocide” in a statement on the issue expected next month. “We expect Obama not to perpetuate or exaggerate this crisis in April,” Davutoglu was reported to say, reiterating Ankara’s strong condemnation of the resolution’s approval by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, indicated that the Obama administration will try to block the resolution’s passage by the full House. In that regard, she downplayed its endorsement by the House panel.

U.S. -- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the Fiscal 2011 budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, 24Feb2010
“The committee … has voted out such a resolution, I think, three times in the past,” Clinton said on Thursday shortly before the committee vote. “They’re likely to vote it out again. But we do not believe that the full Congress will or should act upon that resolution, and we have made that clear to all the parties involved.”

Clinton made the comments at a news conference held during a visit to Costa Rica. A reporter reminded her that both she and Obama have strongly advocated U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide in the past, wondering why they are opposed to it now.

“Well, I think circumstances have changed in very significant ways,” Clinton replied, pointing to the signing last October of two U.S.-brokered protocols envisaging the normalization relations between Armenia and Turkey.

“Within the protocols, there was an agreed-upon approach to establishing a historical commission to look at events in the past” she said. “I do not think it is for any other country to determine how two countries resolve matters between them, to the extent that actions that the United States might take could disrupt this process.”

“Therefore, both President Obama and I have made clear, both last year and again this year, that we do not believe any action by the Congress is appropriate, and we oppose it,” added Clinton.

The chief U.S. diplomat reportedly telephoned the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Howard Berman, on Wednesday to urge him to drop the proposed legislation. However, Berman went ahead with the vote and played a decisive role in its outcome.

Davutoglu complained that the Obama administration did not lobby hard enough against a bill which he said “seriously disturbed” the Turkish government. “We expect the US administration to make more efficient efforts from now on” to stop the resolution from advancing to a vote at the full House of Representatives, he told a news conference in Ankara, reported AFP news agency.

“We don’t want to go through this crisis every spring,” Davutoglu said, according to “Hurriyet Daily News.” “That is why we embarked on the normalization of the relationship with Armenia. We thought that this would begin to settle things, and we really did not expect this kind of backlash.”

The House committee vote put Turkish ratification of the agreements with Armenia into jeopardy, added the Turkish minister.

Ankara dragged its feet over the ratification even months before the latest development. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish leaders have repeatedly made that conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan.

“We are determined to press ahead with normalization of relations with Armenia,” said Davutoglu. But he said his government will not be “pressured” into doing so.
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