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Turkey – a country that President Obama visited on his first overseas tour and referred to as a nation with which the United States enjoys a “model partnership” has recalled its Ambassador to Washington Namik Tan after the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed House Resolution 252 labeling Turkey’s massacre of Armenian civilians during World War I a “genocide.”
This is a significant development in bilateral relations between the United States and one of its most important allies.
Even before the resolution, the United States’ popularity in Turkey was dismal. According to the 2009 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, only 14% of Turks view the United States favorably – a remarkable figure for a country that has been a major U.S. ally since the end of the Second World War. That number is sure to go down after today’s vote.
Sorting out the historical grievances between Turkey and Armenia is an immensely complicated task – and it is certainly understandable that many Armenians feel that Turkey should do more to atone for what was undoubtedly a major tragedy.
However, it is difficult to fathom how today’s developments will help Turkey and Armenia move forward. Rather, today’s vote is the triumph of diaspora politics over serious foreign policy.
Update: I have pasted the official Turkish Government Statement on H.R. 252 below the fold. I have asked for a statement from the Armenian Embassy and will post if it becomes available.
Here is the Turkish Government Statement on the vote on H. Res. 252 in the House Foreign Affairs Committee today:
Turkey regrets the adoption today of the draft resolution by the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“We condemn this draft resolution, accusing the Turkish nation with a crime that it has not committed.
Those who support this draft resolution have adopted a wrong and unfair attitude with political motives, while ignoring the historical truths and differences of opinion among the expert historians on the subject.
In addition to the factual historical mistakes regarding the events of 1915 contained in the resolution, it has been drafted with a totally one-sided approach. Turkey believes that the painful events experienced by all people of Anatolia during the First World War have to be scientifically examined by historians using historical records and archives in an unbiased manner.
Intervention by politicians in the domain of historians has always led to negative consequences.
In fact, during all our contacts concerning the draft resolution it was clearly pointed out that its adoption will lead to undesired results.
We are seriously concerned that the adoption of this draft resolution in the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs despite all our warnings will harm Turkey-US relations and impede the efforts for the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations.
This decision, which could adversely affect our cooperation on a wide common agenda with the United States, also regrettably attests to a lack of strategic vision.
As a result of this development we recalled this evening our Ambassador Namik Tan to Ankara for consultations.
— Ben Katcher