Turkey’s US Envoy Warns Against Genocide Recognition

NEW YORK (Hurriyet)–Turkey’s ambassador to the United States, temporarily recalled in 2007 after a Congressional Committee recognized the Armenian Genocide, has said the reoccurrence of “such an incident” is highly likely, warning that a “new crisis of this scope “ could significantly damage Turkish-US relations.

Ambassador Nabi Sensoy was speaking in New York on February 20 where he told an audience that the “Turkish nation is ready to struggle” against any renewed attempt by the US government to recognize the Genocide.

Sensoy’s warnings come less than a month after congressional leaders launched a renewed drive to re-affirm the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide. In a letter circulated on Capitol Hill on February 12, Reps. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), George Radanovich (R.-Calif.), Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) urged fellow lawmakers to cosponsor a renewed drive to secure the adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

Sensoy was temporarily recalled to Ankara in October of 2007 amidst rising tension over attempts in the US House of Representatives to pass a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The resolution, passed by the House Committee on Foreign but failed to reach the floor of the House following intense lobbying by the Bush administration on behalf of the Turkish government.

“I hope that the officials in the new US administration will understand the importance of Turkey, the meaning of this issue to the Turkish people and the harm it will bring to Turkish-American relations," Sensoy said.

"This was a first in our history,” he said, characterizing his recall as a sign of protest against Washington. Sensoy said he had been recalled for 9 days of "consultations" before being sent back to Washington. "Then everyone understood the seriousness of the matter and a wrong step was avoided. Now we are facing the same danger."

Sensoy also warned that any attempt to re-affirm the US record on the Armenian Genocide would torpedo reconciliation attempts between Turkey and Armenia.

"I am happy to tell you that we are close to that," %u05Eensoy said, referring to prospects for normalizing ties between the two countries. He added that Turks and Armenia’s would have a good opportunity to discuss their problems unless the US Congress passes a genocide resolution.

The Turkish ambassador also said Turkish leaders have recently invited President Obama to visit Turkey to attend a meeting of the UN-backed Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) in Istanbul, slated for April. Turkish officials say Obama would send the world a message in support of East-West dialogue by paying an early visit to Turkey, which sees itself as a bridge between the East and the West.

President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all have a long history of support for US re-affirmation of this crime against humanity. As a presidential candidate, Obama pledged to reaffirm the US record on the Armenian Genocide.

Meanwhile, Robert Wexler, the co-chairman of the US-Turkey Caucus in the US Congress, also said Friday that US moves to recognize the Armenian Genocide would not serve the interests of the United States. He warned that any US step in the direction of “endorsing the genocide charges would hurt attempts to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia.”

Wexler, who had talks with Turkish leaders in Ankara during a visit last week, said at a meeting with a group of journalists before wrapping up his trip that the US Congress should focus on ways to help bring about a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement.

Wexler also dismissed argumen’s that Turkey is moving away from the West because it is pursuing a policy that calls for closer dialogue with Middle East actors. He said Turkey decided that it belongs with the West a long time ago.

According to Wexler, the US and Turkey may have different tactics in the Middle East, particularly concerning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and dialogue with the radical Palestinian group Hamas, but they share the same objectives.

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