Turkish Military Criticizes US on Armenian Vote

ISTANBUL (Reuters)–Turkey’s top general said on Wednesday that the United States should have studied its own past before US lawmakers tentatively moved to recognize accusations of a Turkish genocide against Armenia’s 85 years ago.

“This decision is mistaken–I want to underline that,” Chief of General Staff Huseyin Kivrikoglu said. The commen’s marked rare public criticism by the military here of the United States–Ankara’s chief diplomatic and military partner.

Last week–a congressional subcommittee approved a non-binding resolution for President Bill Clinton to “characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenia’s as genocide.”

Turkey disputes this allegation and says killings took place on both sides during a period of partisan fighting as the Ottoman Empire was collapsing.

“Countries have to examine what happened in their own past before making such decisions about other countries,” the state-run Anatolian news agency quoted General Kivrikoglu as saying in the Aegean city of Izmir.

“If there are worse things in their past they should attend to them and clean them up,” he added–without elaborating.

Armenia on Tuesday welcomed the congressional move as “a serious step towards determining the truth.”

Kivrikoglu said the government was examining options on how to respond to the committee decision–which has yet to be ratified by the full committee or the House or Senate.

Turkey is a major purchaser of US arms and hosts a US air force that patrols a no-fly zone over northern Iraq from a base at Incirlik in southern Turkey.

Turkey could also consider stopping flights into Armenia–its estranged eastern neighbor–or tighten a frontier blockade.

“The government and relevant institutions are considering–and will do–what is necessary. Of course–we have contacts through military channels,” Kivrikoglu said.

Turkey on Wednesday announced plans to hold military exercises with Armenia’s Transcaucasian neighbor Georgia in the east of the country.

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