Washington Still On Fence Over Armenian Genocide Bill

WASHINGTON (RFE/RL)–The U.S. State Department has again pointedly refrained from urging U.S. lawmakers not to pass a resolution that recognizes the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government in 1915.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to discuss and vote on the resolution on Thursday. The administration of President Barack Obama has still not publicly formulated its position on the highly sensitive issue.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley declined to clearly state late on Tuesday whether the Obama administration supports or opposes passage of the resolution, pointing instead to the ongoing U.S.-backed efforts to normalize Armenia’s relations with Turkey.

“And within that process … we think that there is ample room for Turkey and Armenia to evaluate the historical facts as to what happened decades ago,” he told a daily news briefing in Washington. “So we haven’t changed our view, but we continue to engage at a high level with both countries and to encourage them – having worked to reach the agreement in Switzerland last year to see it implemented on both sides.”

“We understand how difficult this is, how emotional this is,” said Crowley. “There’s not a common understanding of what happened 90 years ago. But we value the courageous steps that both leaders have taken, and we just continue to encourage both countries to move forward and not look backward.”

When asked whether Washington has made contingency plans for Turkish retaliation against possible genocide recognition, Crowley said, “I think we have a pretty good understanding of how everyone feels on this issue.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made similarly ambiguous comments on the issue in congressional testimony last week. This stance was welcomed by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the main Armenian-American advocacy group that has for decades been lobbying Congress to recognize the genocide.

In a February 26 statement, ANCA executive director, Aram Hamparian, said: “The current Administration’s conduct, at least to date, stands in stark contrast to past Administrations – both Democratic and Republican – that used every opportunity to score points with Ankara by attacking the broad, bipartisan Congressional majority that has long existed in support of U.S. condemnation and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.”

Congressional committees have repeatedly endorsed similar resolutions over the past decade. However, strong pressure from the White House prevented them from reaching the House or Senate floor.

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3 Comments

  1. John K. said:

    Can someone explain to me why we, the Armenians, always advertise/publicize everything before it happens or before we do it? i.e. the Genocide Resolution. The Jewish Americans pass hundreds of resolutions in favor of (or benefitting) Israel every year and no one hears about it. Why can’t we do this quietly like the Jews? Just burry this resolution in an Israeli resolution and no one would dare to oppose it. It sounds like we are publicizing it (or boasting) to tell our enemies “STOP US IF YOU CAN”. The Administration and the State Department are using this resolution to score political points with Turkey and toying with us emotionally.

  2. Berj said:

    Silence on the part of the administration can work both ways. The real test is the final passage.

  3. manooshag said:

    Hye, it takes GUTS to stand for any moral position today in Washington DC. The timid hide behind all the
    excuses – politics, the economy, State Departments’ position, Hilary’s position today, Obama’s position today,
    – forget what the claimed before in office – all are unable to face the issue of Genocides. I
    If the Turk had been brought to face their gulit in the early 20th century the Genocides that followed shall not have been perpetrated – despots shall have known not commit to a Genocide – the world would not allow ANY Genocide.
    Genocide is not a debateable issue! Any delay in deciding whether it is OR whether it is not permissable shall be on the side of the victims
    Today It will be a moral leader with guts to stand up to Turks who brazenly bully all, as if Turks are owed…
    – Such as a Washington, crossing the Delaware in the dead of winter – unexpected by the enemy
    – Such as a Lincoln, freeing the slaves- keeping the union together as well
    -Such as Theodore Roosevelt who said the worst of WWI was the slaughter of the Christian Armenian nation
    (recognizing, even then, the heinous crime of Genocide).
    -Such as a Truman who did what was needed at the time
    Such as a Reagan knocking the wall in Germany – Germany paid reparations – is an ally today
    Such as a …. seems I’ve runout of the leaders with guts.
    But, when the issue is GENOCIDES still in 2010 in Darfur (being questioned!) shameful our leaderships cannot garner the strengths to seek the means to end the cycle of Genocides – killing of innocents – despite
    all the issues of today. Animals kill for food. Uncivilized/deranged humans kill humans.
    Manooshag

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