Turkey recalls US ambassador
A United States Congressional panel has passed a resolution describing Turkey’s killing of Armenians in World War I as genocide, over objections from the White House.
The panel, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, passed the resolution, which calls on President Barack Obama to “characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide,” by a vote of 23 to 22. The passage came even after the White House warned the panel that the vote would harm talks between Turkey and Armenia, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked the panel not to proceed with the vote. Additionally, a Turkish parliamentary delegation aimed at convincing panel members to defeat the resolution also had gone to Washington to plead their case.
Just minutes after the US resolution passed, Turkey issued a statement condemning “this resolution which accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed.” Additionally, Turkey said that their ambassador to the United States had been immediately recalled for consultation. Armenians, both in America and overseas, welcomed the vote, however, with the Armenian government calling the passage of the resolution “an important step towards the prevention of crimes against humanity.”
The fallout from the vote threatened to disrupt talks between Turkey and Armenia intended to return the two countries to normal diplomatic status. These talks which were acknowledged by President Obama earlier this week in a telephone call to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thanking him for his efforts in the negotiations. Additionally, the resolution significantly dampens relations between America and Turkey, which is America’s staunchest Muslim ally. The US government is dependent on Turkey for its access to northern Iraq, as well as its efforts to regionally isolate Iran, and the government will undoubtedly be working to limit the diplomatic fallout from the resolution.
The events that prompted the resolution were the deportation of Armenians from the Ottoman Empire, the precursor to the current Turkish state, in 1915. Either disease, starvation or deliberate killings by Turkish troops killed around a million and a half Armenians during the deportations and other events during World War I. Since then, more than 20 countries worldwide have officially condemned the actions as genocide. Turkey, however, has rejected the term, and maintains that there was no deliberate attempt to annihilate the Armenian people.