Turkey should not punish the U.S. administration over a resolution in the U.S. Congress that calls the World War I-era killings of Armenians a genocide, but instead should impose sanctions against Armenia for supporting the measure, a top Turkish official said Tuesday.
A U.S. House of Representatives panel approved a resolution last week labeling the killings as genocide, an affront to Turks who deny any systematic campaign to eliminate Armenians at that time. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would schedule a vote soon on the resolution. U.S. President George W. Bush opposed it.
"Bush and his team should not be punished," Egemen Bagis, a foreign policy adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on CNN-Turk television. "The reaction should be against Pelosi and her team." Bagis noted that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates had lobbied against the measure.
In a televised speech on Tuesday, Erdogan compared the resolution to a "summary execution." "Nobody has the right to judge Turkey like this," Erdogan said. "Those who dare confront an important country like Turkey will pay the price."
Erdogan warned that the prospect of improving ties with Armenia would also suffer if the resolution was backed by the full House of Representatives. "Those who expect openings from Turkey will be left alone with their problems," he said. "They will have to pay the cost of their hostility towards an important country like Turkey."
Bagis said Turkey should impose sanctions against Armenia because it supported the resolution. "Turkey must impose sanctions against Armenia," Bagis said. "Turkey has already done a list of what and when it will do, and the prime minister has already given necessary orders."
The border between Turkey and Armenia is closed. But Turkey could cancel flights between Istanbul and Yerevan, as well as stopover flights to Armenia, and also prevent around 4,000 trucks from hauling goods to Armenia through neighboring Georgia.