Resolutions highlights fading Turkish influence in Washington

There are currently nine resolutions pending in the us Congress on issues concerning Turkey. Three urge Turkey to recognize the “Armenian genocide,” one calls on the country to lift its restrictions on social media, and another seeks the return of “stolen” Christian property in Anatolia.

“There has never been such a time in Turkish-American relations,” an expert on the subject who asked not to be named told sunday’s Zaman, referring to the unusually high number of Turkey-related resolutions in the us Congress.

The expert said the resolutions are another sign of Turkey’s diminished influence in the us capital, the result of Turkey’s recent policies.

The expert said that the us thinks of its current relations with Turkey as “transactional,” characterizing that approach as follows: “We will talk about our needs, [but] when something that is not in line with universal values happens in Turkey, we will express our opinions about it.”

Washington has been particularly critical of Turkey tightening its grip on the country’s judiciary and its restrictions on social media.

The us senate Foreign Relations Committee recently passed a resolution commemorating the “Armenian genocide,” clearing the way for the resolution to be voted on in the senate.

A senior diplomat told sunday’s Zaman that if the Armenian resolution comes to the senate floor, it will be adopted, “without a doubt.”

“Turkey has no weight in Washington. Not anymore,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be named. It will be the decision of senate majority leader Harry Reid whether to put the resolution onto the senate calendar. Reid is one of the co-sponsors of the resolution, and he seems inclined to bring it to the floor, according to the expert.

“It is about where the country (Turkey) goes,” a staffer working for an influential congressman told sunday’s Zaman. The staffer, who asked also asked to remain anonymous, said even with the existence of a strong Turkey caucus working hard to protect the country’s interests, Turkey’s limits on freedom of expression and freedom of the press seem unjustifiable.

Another congressional staffer told sunday’s Zaman that she doesn’t expect any of the resolutions to come up for debate soon, adding that lawmakers have other priorities and nothing is moving at the moment in Congress, as the focus is on the National Defense Authorization Act to be discussed next month.

The expert on Turkish-American relations told sunday’s Zaman that he found Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoGan’s statement on the events of 1915 “cynical,” adding that had the statement come three months ago, it would have had a more positive effect. Now it seems like an attempt to stop the genocide resolutions from being adopted in the us Congress.

“It seems that you [Turkey] want to get along with the us, signaling normalizing relations with Israel, convincing the West about your sincerity to push the Cyprus issue forward and moving toward normalizing relations with Armenia with ErdoGan’s recent statement on the 1915 events. You can’t say you don’t care what the outside world thinks. But, in domestic politics, the rhetoric that the us and Israel are enemies plotting against Turkey seems to work.”

ErdoGan issued a statement on the events of 1915 on the eve of their 99th anniversary, extending Turkey’s condolences to the Armenian community. He said the events of the World War I era are “our shared” pain and noted that the deportation of the Armenians had “inhumane consequences.”

The resolutions

House Resolution 187 expresses “the us’ commitment to the reunification of the Republic of Cyprus and the establishment of a unified government on Cyprus that guarantees the human rights of all Cypriots and condemns any attempt to use the current economic crisis as a means of imposing a settlement on the people of Cyprus, and for other purposes.” It has 17 co-sponsors.

House Resolution 188 calls on “the Government of Turkey to facilitate the reopening of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Theological school of Halki without condition or further delay.” Established in 1844 on the island of Heybeliada off Istanbul, Halki seminary was closed in 1971 under a law that placed religious and military training under state control. The Eu and us frequently criticize Turkey for not reopening the Halki seminary. The resolution has 37 co-sponsors.

House Resolution 136 “calls on Turkey to eliminate all forms of discrimination, particularly those based on race or religion, and immediately … grant the Ecumenical Patriarch appropriate international recognition and ecclesiastic succession.” Ankara does not recognize the ecumenical status of the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey. The resolution has 18 co-sponsors.

House Resolution 227 calls on “the us President to work toward equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey’s full acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity.”

House Resolution 308 “supports the resumption of discussions to find a just and viable settlement [to the Cyprus issue] based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation … and supports the important partnership between the Republic of Cyprus and Israel.” Peace talks on the island resumed in February, with intense efforts by Turkey and the us.

House Resolution 4347 would require the us secretary of state “to provide an annual report to Congress regarding us government efforts to survey and secure the return, protection, and restoration of stolen, confiscated, or otherwise unreturned Christian properties in the Republic of Turkey and … Northern Cyprus.”

House Resolution 532 “calls on Government of Turkey to allow free expression and Internet freedom. senate Resolution 403 condemns the actions of Turkey in restricting free expression and Internet freedom on social media.

senate Resolution 410 says “… the President should ensure that u.s. foreign policy reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the u.s. record relating to the Armenian Genocide.”