Turkey imposed restrictions to punish Armenia’s for European and US Congressional consideration of Armenian Genocide resolution.
WASHINGTON–The Armenian National Committee of America Thursday dismissed the Turkish government’s announcement that it will lift punitive visa restrictions on Armenian citizens–describing this step as a short-term measure aimed at distracting attention from Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia–creating undeserved good-will for Turkey over its antagonistic posture toward Armenia–and smoothing the way for visiting Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to make several multi-billion dollar requests of the Bush Administration.
"The Turkish government does not deserve credit for lifting an arbitrarily imposed restriction that it readily admits was put in place to punish the people of Armenia because the US Congress and several European nations either considered or adopted legislation on the Armenian Genocide," explained ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "As an unrepentant perpetrator of genocide against the Armenian people–the Turkish government will need to go far beyond such token and transparent gestures. If events of the past six months have shown us anything–it is that meaningful dialogue between Armenia’s and the Turkish government will only be possible after Turkey has abandoned its denial of the Armenian Genocide–fully lifted its blockade–and ceased its military assistance to Azerbaijan."
Prime Minister Ecevit–who met with President Bush on Wednesday–arrived in Washington with a laundry list of requests for assistance from the Bush Administration–including: -Multi-billion dollar International Monetary Fund and World Bank assistance to counter Turkey’s economic crisis that has–over the past year–cut the value of Turkey’s currency in half. – Increased access to the US market for Turkish textiles and steel–at the expense of US producers and the loss of American jobs. -Debt forgiveness for billions of dollars of Turkish financial obligations to the United States in the form of past Foreign Military Sales (FMS). -Support for hundreds of millions of dollars in increased construction costs for a Baku-Ceyhan pipeline that bypasses Armenia at the insistence of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Also on Wednesday–the State Department reacted favorably to the Turkish government’s decision. According to a State Department spokesperson–the State Department:
"Welcome[s] Turkey’s decision to lift visa restrictions on travel by Armenia’s to Turkey and hope it will contribute to improving Turkish Armenian relations. We strongly encourage government and private engagement to work out further concrete steps that can be taken along the road to normalized relations."
Visa restrictions were imposed on Armenian citizens traveling to Turkey after October 2000–following US Congressional consideration of the Armenian Genocide resolution and the adoption of similar resolutions by a number of European countries and organizations – including France–Italy–and the European Parliament.
With the restriction removed–Armenian citizens can arrange to enter Turkey at the border–instead of needing to visit a third-country Turkish embassy to get a Turkish entry visa. Turkey continues its 9 year blockade of Armenia–which is illegal under international law.