WASHINGTON–DC (ANCA)–Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) is urging his House colleagues to cosign a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressing the obstacles to Turkey’s European Union aspirations. The letter lists the Turkish government’s ongoing refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide–its blockade of Armenia–and its occupation of Cyprus.
In a "Dear Colleague" letter circulated on November 3–Costa urged his House colleagues to cosign the letter calling on Secretary Rice to "address a number of concerns regarding the Republic of Turkey’s beginning negotiations for admission into the European Union."
The letter calls for an update on State Department efforts to address human rights issues in Turkey–along with Turkey’s lingering Armenian and Cyprus problems.
"Few tragedies in our shared history are as comprehensively documented as the fate of more than 1.5 million Armenia’s living within the Ottoman Empire from 1915-1923," stresses the letter. "We believe that only by acknowledging the Ottoman Empire’s genocidal legacy–can Turkey fully return to the community of nations."
The letter stresses that despite violating international law and condemnations on behalf of the United States and the European Union–Turkey continues to impose its twelve-year blockade of Armenia. "Overall–this policy acts against the interests of the European Union and is counterproductive to US interests to support broad engagement with the nations of the South Caucasus to help them ‘remain independent–and [to] become democratic–stable–and prosperous partners of the United States.’"
ANCA chapters across the country have begun contacting their local US Representatives urging them to cosign the Congressional letter. Representatives Michael Bilirakis (R-FL)–Ed Markey (D-MA)–Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)–Frank Pallone (D-NJ)–George Radanovich (R-CA)–and Adam Schiff (D-CA) have already pledged their support.