Ankara Plays Afghanistan, Iraq Cards in Fight Against Genocide Bill

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–Ankara has threatened that U.S. expectations from Turkey regarding Afghanistan and Iraq may not be fulfilled if the U.S. Congress passes the Armenian Genocide resolution, which will be voted on this week in the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Rep. Howard L. Berman, who chairs the key congressional Committee and is backing the resolution, plans to bring the resolution before the panel Thursday. If the bill passes committee, it could go to a full vote in the House.

While Ankara, which officially denies the Genocide, has conveyed its fierce opposition to Washington at various levels, it also plans to play the Afghanistan and Iraq cards, the Turkish Hurriyet daily reported Monday. Turkey has warned that passage of the Genocide resolution would harm the Turkish-U.S. partnership and cause Ankara to not fulfill U.S. requests on the two challenging issues.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry expressed “regret” Monday about the March 4 committee vote, calling on the members to act responsibly.

“We expect the [U.S.] House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee to reject the draft resolution that would harm the relationship between Turkey and the United States and put a dent in the normalization of Turkish-Armenian ties,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin said in written response to a question.

“We want to believe the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee are aware of the harm that will be caused by the adoption of the draft resolution to Turkish-U.S. relations, as well as the efforts for peace and stability in the South Caucasus, and that they will act with a feeling of responsibility,” he said.

Two groups of Turkish deputies are visiting the United States to prevent the adoption of the controversial resolution, Ozugergin said.

The first group is led by Turkish Parliament Foreign Affairs Commission head Murat Mercan and includes opposition and ruling party deputies. The second group, meanwhile, includes Turkish Parliament U.S. Caucus head Suat kinikioglu of the ruling Justice and Development Party.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that a wrong step would harm efforts to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations.

“If a wrong step is taken there [in the U.S.], that will deal a blow to the process,” he said, referring to the government efforts to engage with Armenia. “We are in contact. A group of Turkish deputies is currently in the U.S. A wrong step on March 4 and on April 24 will sabotage the process. I hope the members of the Congress will observe this sensitivity.”

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