Pallone Condemns Turkey for Interfering in Congressional Affairs

WASHINGTON– US Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, made the following statement on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday criticizing Turkey for making improper threats against the United States if Congress considers a bill recognizing the Armenian Genocide. "Madam Speaker, I rise this morning to share my concerns regarding the Turkish government’s threats to retaliate against our country if the U.S. Congress adopts a resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide."These shocking threats have been issued in response to the recent introduction of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106. This measure seeks to affirm the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide, by recognizing it as a historical fact. It also praises the American record of opposition to this tragedy, which is marked by courageous diplomatic protests and unprecedented American relief efforts for the survivors of this crime."Senior Turkish government officials have warned that, if Congress even considers this resolution, they will cut off supply access for our forces serving in Iraq. In fact, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told Vice President Dick Cheney that the US must (quote) ‘calculate the costs of losing Turkey.’"Such a brazen threat to interfere in U.S. military operations is absolutely unacceptable. I am outraged that the Turkish government would put the lives of soldiers at risk in the pursuit of its desperate campaign to deny the systematic slaughter of 1.5 million Armenia’s. This extremist behavior is known as blackmail in my book and it should be publicly and forcefully rejected as such. Clearly, Turkey is no friend of the US."As an American, I am deeply offended that another country is seeking to dictate where our nation stands on core moral issues. Especially a country that claims to embrace democracy yet has a long-standing history of abusing minorities, intellectuals and the principle of freedom of expression."As a Member of Congress, it is extremely troubling that a foreign government is meddling in our nation’s legislative process through threats and intimidation. This is the most dramatic intervention of a foreign government in U.S. congressional affairs and it has been going on for much too long."Madam Speaker, Senior Administration officials, rather than outright rejecting these outrageous intimidations, are passing them on to Members of Congress as justification for not supporting the Armenian Genocide Resolution. The Administration is showing no courage on this issue, instead giving Turkey a free pass on their efforts to deliberately reject the truth. They seem to go to any lengths, including having soldiers call into their Representatives in fear of their lives, to deny the Armenian Genocide simply because Turkey deman’s that they do so."Madam Speaker, the Armenian Genocide Resolution already has over 175 cosponsors. I am certain that if Members of the House were given the opportunity to vote on this Resolution, we would pass it overwhelmingly. Congress should be allowed to reaffirm what we all believe and know to be fact–that genocide was orchestrated by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 to exterminate its Armenian citizens."Reaffirming the Armenian Genocide is a matter of conscience. It is my hope that this Congress will rebuke any warnings against the United States by Turkey and consider legislation on the Armenian Genocide."

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