‘Turkey will not remain silent over ‘genocide resolution’ if adopted’

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Tuesday that Turkey is closely following developments over the Armenian “genocide” resolution that was passed by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week and that it will not allow “any political exploitation” of the issue.

In his remarks in Mexico City, where he was attending informal talks with his counterparts from Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Australia, Davutoğlu said the resolution would not have any negative effects on Ankara-Washington ties at this stage, but stressed that Turkey will not remain silent if the resolution is adopted by the Senate.

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution last week commemorating the “Armenian Genocide,” clearing the way for the resolution to be voted on by the Senate as a whole. US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Mark Kirk introduced the resolution on April 3. After it passed, Davutoğlu called on US authorities to prevent the deterioration of US-Turkey relations, saying that “Turkey-US relations should not be hampered by the activities of any lobby.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will now decide whether or not to bring the resolution to the Senate floor. The Senate will reconvene on April 28.

“We [Davutoğlu and US Secretary of State John Kerry] haven’t spoken to each other as there has been no new development; however, our stance is clear. Under no circumstances will Turkey allow any political exploitation of this nature,” Davutoğlu said, according to a report the state-owned Anadolu news agency released on its website on Tuesday.

He dismissed the possibility of the resolution being submitted to the Senate, saying that this is “not expected” and that Turkey does not anticipate the “possibility of the resolution being adopted.” He stated that Kerry also told him that he did not expect the resolution to pass the next stage.

“If the resolution is submitted to the Senate or plenary session of the House of Representatives or if a statement is made by the government, we will reiterate our position and on the condition of it being adopted, it will most certainly not be possible for Turkey to remain silent,” Davutoğlu said.

In 2010, the US State Department strongly opposed a similar resolution in the House of Representatives. P.J. Crowley, then spokesman of the State Department, said, “We continue to believe that the best way for Turkey and Armenia to address their shared past is through their efforts to normalize relations.”

Ankara denies claims that the events of 1915 amount to genocide, arguing that both Turks and Armenians were killed when Armenians revolted against the Ottoman Empire during World War I in collaboration with the Russian army, which was then invading Eastern Anatolia.

Erdoğan implies ‘genocide’ resolution is part of smear campaign

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that in addition to the smear campaign conducted inside Turkey by “certain media institutions,” a similar campaign are being conducted both in the European Union and the US and has claimed that the resolution about the 1915 events is part of this defamation.

Speaking at a group meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on Tuesday, Erdoğan said there has been “treachery” and that the resolution is part of “propaganda” in the US against Turkey.

“Smear campaigns have been conducted and these campaigns are still going on. By writing letters to states, by cooperating with the representatives of the Armenian lobby, even by supporting them [the Armenian lobby] financially, a dirty, ugly smear campaign has been conducted against Turkey,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan was talking about a report by the pro-government Sabah daily in which the newspaper claimed that the “parallel structure” — a reference to the Hizmet movement — funded Menendez’s election campaign. Sabah claims Menendez received $9,500 in total from two schools, a law firm and a computer company that the daily claims have close ties to Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Turkish scholar who is the inspiration behind the Hizmet movement.

The Turkic American Alliance (TAA) has rejected claims of “treachery” which aim to link the Hizmet movement with the passing of the “Armenian genocide” resolution by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

US House Speaker meets senior Turkish officials in Ankara

Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner paid a surprise visit to Ankara on Tuesday to hold high level meetings with Turkish officials.

Boehner held meetings with President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek. His visit came at a time when two resolutions on the “Armenian genocide” are on the agenda of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.

Four US Congressmen introduced a resolution to the US House of Representatives on April 4, calling on US President Barack Obama to encourage a Turkish-Armenian relationship based on Turkey’s “acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide,” in a move parallel to a resolution which was introduced to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and passed on April 10.

Following his meeting with Çiçek, Boehner said that the US Congress is unlikely to get involved in “Armenian Genocide” issue, stressing that Turkey has no reason to worry since it is not up to the US Congress to rewrite history.

Çiçek described the Armenia issue as defamation against Turkey as well as a major burden in US-Turkey relations. He also claimed that Turkey is ready to face its history, yet if parliaments make decisions on historical issues, it may hamper bilateral relations between the countries involved.

US Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and US Senator Mark Kirk introduced the resolution to the Senate committee on April 3, urging the Senate to remember and observe the anniversary of the “Armenian Genocide” on April 24, 2014.

“The Armenian Genocide is a horrifying factual reality that can never be denied,” Chairman Menendez said when he introduced the resolution. “This resolution reaffirms in the strongest terms that we will always remember this tragedy and honor the memory of innocent Armenian men, women and children who were killed and expelled from their homeland. The Armenian Genocide must be taught, recognized, and commemorated to prevent the re-occurrence of similar atrocities from ever happening again,” he said.

The resolution also states that Obama should ensure that US foreign policy “reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide.”

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Tuesday that Turkey will respond if the resolution is passed by the US Senate and reiterated remarks made during a recent visit to Mexico that the government does not expect such possibility. Last week, Davutoğlu called on US authorities to prevent the deterioration of US-Turkey relations after the resolution was passed by the US Senate committee.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN