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.