Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Urge Chairman Lantos to Reject Turkish Threats Against Genocide Resolution

WASHINGTON–Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) expressed outrage at recent warnings by the Turkish government that it will take actions threatening the security of US troops in Iraq should Congress even consider the Armenian Genocide Resolution, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. In a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA), Reps. Pallone and Knollenberg noted that, "it is our understanding that senior Turkish government officials have warned that, in response to Congress even considering this resolution, they will close supply pipelines for our forces serving in Iraq. This shameless threat to interfere in US military operations is absolutely unacceptable and deeply offensive." The Representatives went on to express dismay at the response of several Administration officials who, caving in to the Turkish government’s threats, have urged Members of Congress to oppose even debate on this human rights measure. "Sadly, the Turkish government is able to maintain its denial – against all evidence and the tide of international opinion – in large part due to the State Department’s efforts to silence those who speak with moral clarity about the Armenian Genocide," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "It is a testament to the hypocrisy of the Administration’s position that, on the one hand, its senior officials remained almost entirely silent on Article 301 prior to Hrant Dink’s murder, while on the other hand loudly and repeatedly attacking even the consideration by the US Congress of the Armenian Genocide Resolution." The letter to Chairman Lantos comes on the heels of a three-day Washington, visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who had announced that his government’s opposition to the Armenian Genocide resolution was a top priority in discussions with senior US officials. "In this case, approval of this bill [Armenian Genocide resolution – H.Res.106] against Turkey would ruin everything. "I told my counterpart that this step will have a great influence on our relations," said Gul during a press conference immediately following his meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Similar statemen’s threatening a cut-off of economic ties following the French adoption of a law recognizing the Armenian Genocide in January, 2001, proved empty, with trade between France and Turkey growing by over 131 percent between 2001 to 2005. Meanwhile in the US, despite US Administration and Congressional leadership opposition to Armenian Genocide legislation from 2001-2006, Ankara still blocked a northern front into Iraq, a move that the Defense Department has said added significantly to the problems currently facing our forces in the region today. Gul is reported to have met with Vice President Cheney, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Secretary Rice and several Members of Congress this week, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Chairman Lantos, Turkish Caucus Co-Chair Robert Wexler (D-FL), and former Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO). The visit of a high level delegation of Turkish parliament members scheduled for this week to lobby against Armenian Genocide legislation has reportedly been postponed indefinitely. The Armenian Genocide resolution – H.Res.106 – was introduced on January 30 by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) along with Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA), Frank Pallone, Joe Knollenberg, Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and currently has 170 cosponsors. The resolution would urge the President to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide as ‘genocide’ and reaffirm the US historic record on the topic. ANCA regional and local chapters have been working with activists across the US in support of securing a speedy committee and full House approval of the measure. A similar resolution will be introduced in the Senate in the upcoming weeks. The complete text of Reps. Pallone and Knollenberg’s letter follows. The Honorable Tom Lantos Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs US House of Representatives 2170 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Dear Chairman Lantos: We are writing to share our concerns regarding the Turkish government’s threats to retaliate against our country if the US Congress, exercising its Constitutional duties, moves toward adoption of a resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide. These threats have been issued in response to our recent introduction — along with more than 160 of our colleagues in the US House of Representatives — of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106. This measure seeks to affirm the US record on the Armenian Genocide, an important chapter in our nation’s history marked by courageous diplomatic protests and unprecedented American relief efforts for the survivors of this crime. It is our understanding that senior Turkish government officials have warned that, in response to Congress even considering this resolution, they will close supply pipelines for our forces serving in Iraq. This shameless threat to interfere in US military operations is absolutely unacceptable and deeply offensive. Moreover, we have heard that senior Administration officials, rather than outright rejecting these outrageous intimidations, have instead passed them on to Members of Congress as justification for not supporting the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Regardless of any Member’s position on this resolution, it should be clear that a foreign government’s interfering with US congressional debate is completely inappropriate. As elected Members of Congress and the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, we are outraged that the Turkish government would put the lives of our troops abroad at risk in the pursuit of its increasingly desperate campaign to deny the systematic slaughter of 1.5 million Armenia’s. We therefore respectfully request you reject any unduly warnings in relation to congressional consideration of legislation on the Armenian Genocide. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your response. Sincerely, Frank Pallone, Jr. Member of Congress Joe Knollenberg Member of Congress


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