The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote next week on a resolution calling for official U.S. recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
The resolution was introduced by several pro-Armenian U.S. lawmakers, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, in April this year and has had 117 co-sponsors since then. It calls on the U.S. government to “commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance” and to “reject” Turkish and other efforts to deny it.
The resolution is included on the House agenda for next week released by Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. It is due to debated right after a House vote on a bipartisan bill that would sanction Turkey for its military offensive in northern Syria.
“We're going to have a Turkey sanctions bill and we're going to have an Armenian genocide bill,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel told National Public Radio earlier this week. “Both of which I'm sure the government of Turkey is not happy with, but then again we're not happy with the government of Turkey.”
In a joint statement issued on Thursday, Schiff and other leaders of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues said they are “very pleased” that the resolution “will receive a vote next week by the full House.”
Armenian-American lobby groups also hailed the initiative which is understood to enjoy the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“This latest [Turkish] assault on vulnerable ethnic groups demonstrates the need for Congress to unequivocally affirm the Armenian genocide and adopt the resolutions pending in the House and Senate,” said Bryan Ardouny, the executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America.
“We urge all [House] members to support this important human rights measure and send a strong message that the days of genocide denial are over,” Ardouny told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
The Assembly and the Armenian National Committee of America have for decades been campaigning for the passage of such legislation. Genocide resolutions drafted by pro-Armenian lawmakers have been repeatedly approved by congressional committees. But they have not reached the House or Senate floor until now because of opposition from U.S. administrations worried about their impact on U.S.-Turkish relations.
Successive Turkish governments have warned of serious damage to those ties, vehemently denying the slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire. Ankara has not yet reacted to the announcement of the planned House vote.
There was also no immediate reaction from the White House. Like his predecessors, President Donald Trump avoided using the word genocide in his annual statements on the World War One-era mass killings and deportations of Armenians. He has spoken instead of “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century.”
On Wednesday, Trump lifted sanctions imposed by him on Turkey earlier this month, saying that a ceasefire in northern Syria is now permanent.