Former US Envoy Warns Turkey of ‘Bad News’ Ahead

ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)–The Armenian lobby in Washington is fully mobilized and highly motivated to re-launch its congressional campaign for the United States to recognize the Armenian Genocide, A former US ambassador to Turkey said Wednesday in Istanbul.

Speaking at a dinner hosted by Turkey’s International Investors Association, retired US diplomat Mark Parris described commitmen’s from leading members of the new US Administration to recognize the Genocide as “bad news.”

The news comes as a letter seeking U.S. House cosponsors for a renewed drive to secure the adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution was circulated Thursday on Capitol Hill by the legislation’s lead authors, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and George Radanovich (R-CA), and Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Mark Kirk (R-IL), reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Parris, who is currently a consultant for the Washington-based Brookings Institute, warned the event’s guests that “the Armenian lobby is fully mobilized, highly motivated and in possession of unprecedentedly clear and unqualified commitmen’s from leading members of the new Administration that the events of 1915 will be termed genocide."

"It is not a pretty picture from where we sit tonight,” Pariss said, talking about the strong commitmen’s to recognize the genocide voiced during the 2008 presidential election by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All three have a long history of support for US affirmation of the crime against humanity.

He said, however, he does not think this will necessarily materialize in either a resolution or a statement by the White House. “At the end of the day someone in Washington will calculate where the American interest lies and make the case. I think there are strong and potentially compelling argumen’s that can be made that this is not the time and there [will] never be a proper time to approach this issue in this way.”

From Washington’s viewpoint the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenian are “highly important,” Parris said, adding that the establishment of diplomatic relations between Yerevan and Ankara would effectively “change the course of discussions in Washington.”

"I understand from today’s Hurriyet headlines there is something tangible and imminent if that promises are realized that could change the course of the discussions in Washington and we can talk about other issues I mentioned today," he said, citing a report dismissed as false by the Turkish, Armenian, and Azeri Foreign Ministries. The report alleged a deal to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan had been brokered by Turkey on Tuesday.

Parris also expressed concern over the potential political fallout of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s condemnation of Israel’s war in Gaza. He said Erdogan’s outburst at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month could negatively effect Turkish-Jewish lobby relations.

"I think that there is some likelihood that there will be an impact on enthusiasm on which to address a potential action having to do with the genocide,” he said, talking about the Israeli lobbies threats to pull support for Turkey’s lobbying efforts in Washington. “If you had read their statemen’s you will see that they had stressed the strategic importance of Turkey. But it would be inaccurate for me to suggest that this will not be affected by some of the things said and happened here. And there might be some consequences from that.”

Parris said Turkey’s reaction against the Israeli operations in Gaza, which left more than 1,300 people dead, highlighted "the dilemma that some in the U.S. see in Turkey’s more assertive regional diplomacy".

“Some of the rhetoric here has, I fear, undermined Ankara’s hard-earned reputation for even-handedness,” he added. “That has to be considered a loss as the Obama administration considers how –and with whom–to begin the process of re-engagement in pursuit of a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors.”

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