Defiant US lawmakers pass Armenia 'genocide' bill | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 06, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 06, 2010

Defiant US lawmakers pass Armenia 'genocide' bill

Turkey warns of breakdown in ties

Turkish nationalists chant slogans to protest against the US in Istanbul yesterday. A group of Turkish nationalists gathered after US lawmakers voted to brand as "genocide" the killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War I. Photo: AFP

Turkey has furiously recalled its ambassador after US lawmakers voted to brand as "genocide" the killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War I.
Despite strong opposition from Turkey and the White House, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the symbolic resolution on Thursday, albeit by the slimmest 23-22 margin, and set the stage for a full vote in the House of Representatives.
The Turkish government, which had sent its own lawmakers to Washington to lobby US congressmen and warned of serious repercussions over the vote, responded by recalling ambassador Namik Tan to Ankara for consultations.
"We condemn this resolution which accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed," it said in a statement.
Turkey's foreign minister is warning of a breakdown in ties with the US after a congressional committee approved a resolution branding the World War I-era killing of Armenians genocide.
Ahmet Davutoglu said Friday the Obama administration had not sufficiently put its weight behind efforts to block the vote. He called on the administration to prevent the measure from coming to the full House.
President Abdullah Gul also expressed his anger, saying the resolution had "no value in the eyes of the Turkish people" and warning it would deal a blow to fledgling efforts to end decades of hostility between Turkey and Armenia.
"Turkey will not be responsible for the negative ramifications that this vote may have in every field," he stressed.
The non-binding resolution calls on President Barack Obama to ensure that US foreign policy reflects an understanding of the "genocide" and to label the mass killings as such in his annual statement on the issue.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed during World War I by their Ottoman rulers as the empire was falling apart, a claim supported by several other countries.
Turkey argues 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in what was a civil strife when Armenians rose up for independence and sided with invading Russian troops.
The United States has traditionally condemned the 1915-1918 killings, but refrained from calling them a "genocide," anxious not to strain relations with Turkey, a Nato member and a key Muslim majority ally in the Middle East.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had urged the committee not to press ahead with the vote for fear it might harm reconciliation moves between Armenia and Turkey and said she hoped the bid would progress no further.
"We do not believe the full Congress will or should act on that resolution," Hillary told reporters in Costa Rica.

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