Saturday, March 06, 2010

Turkish "honor" threatened

From JPost, 05/03/2010, by ASSOCIATED PRESS:

Turkish FM calls US recognition of World War I [Armenian] genocide a matter of "honor."

Turkey warned the Obama administration on Friday of negative diplomatic consequences if it fails to impede a US resolution branding the World War I-era killing of Armenians as genocide. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country, a key Muslim ally of the US, would assess what measures it would take, adding that the issue was a matter of "honor" for Ankara.

A US congressional committee approved the measure Thursday. The 23-22 vote sends the measure to the full House of Representatives, where prospects for passage are uncertain. Minutes after the vote, Turkey withdrew its ambassador to the US

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

...[Foreign Minister] Davutoglu  ...complained of a lack of "strategic vision" in Washington. ...The measure was approved at a time when Washington is expected to press Turkey to back sanctions against Iran to be approved in the UN Security Council, where Turkey currently holds a rotating seat. Turkish cooperation is also important to US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also at stake are defense contracts. Turkey is an important market for US defense companies, many of which had lobbied against the measure.

Davutoglu  ...added that the vote had put the ratification of agreements to normalize ties with Armenia into jeopardy.

...Armenian-American groups have sought congressional affirmation of the killings as genocide for decades and welcomed Thursday's vote.

The vote also came at a time when relations with the United States — strained by Turkey's refusal to allow its territory to be used for the invasion of Iraq — had recently improved. Turkey was the first Muslim country Obama visited after taking office.
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