‘Reconciliation’ Set Up to Thwart Genocide Bill Effort

GLENDALE–YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–In an interview with the Azeri newspaper–"525-chi Gazet," last month–one of the Turkish members of the so-called Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission– Ozdem Sanberk made the following alarming revelation: "The basic goals of our commission is to impede the initiatives put forth every year in the US Congress and parliamen’s of Western countries for the genocide issue and aimed at weakening Turkey."

The Turkish member added "…The key goal is to prevent the genocide issue from being regularly brought into the agenda of the Western countries?. The significant matter for us is that the genocide issue is not discussed by the American Congress any more. Because–as long as we continue the dialogue–the issue won’t be brought to the Congress agenda. If it is not discussed in the Congress–we–being Turkey–will gain from that. The US Congress will see that there is a channel of dialogue between Turks and Armenia’s and decide that ‘there is no necessity for the Congress to take such decision while such a channel exists.’"

Ozdem’s commen’s were extensively covered by Harut Sassounian–the published of the Glendale-based California Courier weekly newspaper.

Meanwhile–the commission on Tuesday received the indirect support of the United States. Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones told reporters in Yerevan that Washington welcomes any initiative aimed at a normalization of ties between Armenia and Turkey. But she denied any US government involvement in the "private" dialogue–reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

On Wednesday–the controversial Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission–announced it will hold its next meeting in Istanbul in the last week of September. One of the four Armenian members of the private body–former foreign minister Alexander Arzumanian–told RFE/RL that he will fly to the Turkish city on September 23 to attend the session.

Arzumanian refused to give any details of the meeting–including its length and agenda. He said he and the three other commission members–accused by their opponents of undermining the campaign for international recognition of the 1915 genocide–have agreed not to comment publicly on the commission’s work.

The mostly Armenian opponents of the initiative claim that it is part of Ankara’s efforts to avert more resolutions by Western legislatures recognizing the death of some 1.5 million Armenia’s as a genocide. But the Armenian commission members and their supporters believe that it may lay the groundwork for a change in Turkey’s policy of genocide denial.

Some Western media reports have said the US State Department actively encouraged the secret negotiations that preceded the commission’s creation.

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