Ankara de­cries Amer­i­can res­o­lu­tion on mass killings

The National - News - - NEWS - AN­DREW WILKS

The de­ci­sion by the US House to pass a res­o­lu­tion to recog­nise the mass killing of Ar­me­ni­ans in the First World War as geno­cide drew fu­ri­ous re­ac­tion in Tur­key yes­ter­day.

De­spite com­ing in the mid­dle of the night in Tur­key, the res­o­lu­tion – stat­ing that US pol­icy is to com­mem­o­rate the Ar­me­nian geno­cide car­ried out by the Ot­toman Em­pire be­tween 1915 and 1923 – was con­demned by the For­eign Min­istry in Ankara and se­nior of­fi­cials.

For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu sug­gested the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ “shame­ful de­ci­sion” was a re­sponse to Tur­key’s re­cent mil­i­tary in­cur­sion in north-east Syria. “Cir­cles be­liev­ing that they will take re­venge this way are mis­taken,” he tweeted.

Fahret­tin Al­tun, Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, sent a series of tweets crit­i­cis­ing the “deeply trou­ble­some” vote. He also drew at­ten­tion to an­other US res­o­lu­tion passed on Tues­day – the 96th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of the Turk­ish repub­lic – call­ing for sanc­tions over the Syria oper­a­tion.

US am­bas­sador to Ankara,

David Sat­ter­field, was sum­moned to the For­eign Min­istry yes­ter­day, the state-run Anadolu news agency re­ported.

Ger­many recog­nised the Ar­me­nian geno­cide in 2016 and France five years ear­lier. Tur­key re­acted then by tem­po­rar­ily re­call­ing its am­bas­sadors.

Mr Er­do­gan took aim at Amer­ica’s own blood-soaked his­tory.

“The step taken by the US has no value for us,” he said. “A coun­try whose his­tory is full of geno­cide, ex­ploita­tion and slav­ery has no right to give Tur­key les­sons.”

He said he had yet to de­cide whether to visit the White House on Novem­ber 13.

The mass killings of Ot­toman Ar­me­ni­ans is a highly charged is­sue in Tur­key, where public dis­cus­sion has some­times led to charges of “in­sult­ing Turk­ish­ness”. In 2007, eth­nic Ar­me­nian news­pa­per ed­i­tor Hrant Dink was mur­dered by a young Turk­ish na­tion­al­ist in Is­tan­bul af­ter a series of high-pro­file court cases re­lat­ing to his writ­ing on Ar­me­nian is­sues.

Most his­to­ri­ans ac­cept that pogroms and the forced de­por­ta­tion of Ar­me­ni­ans from eastern Ana­to­lia to the Syr­ian Desert from 1915 led to more than a mil­lion deaths. Ar­me­nian claims put the fig­ure at 1.5 mil­lion and de­scribe it as the world’s first geno­cide and a blue­print for the Holo­caust. Tur­key says about 300,000 died in the tur­moil of war as armed Ar­me­nian bands sided with in­vad­ing Rus­sian forces.

The is­sue was ex­ac­er­bated by a campaign of as­sas­si­na­tion against Turk­ish diplo­mats over­seas by Ar­me­nian mil­i­tants in the 1970s and 1980s.

The US res­o­lu­tion was the first time ei­ther con­gres­sional cham­ber has of­fi­cially recog­nised the Ar­me­nian geno­cide. Pre­vi­ously leg­is­la­tors did not use the la­bel to avoid an­tag­o­nis­ing Nato ally Tur­key.

Two years ago, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­scribed it as “one of the worst mass atroc­i­ties of the 20th cen­tury” but stopped short of de­scrib­ing it as geno­cide. His pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama also de­clined to use the word, de­spite hav­ing promised to do so.

Ar­me­nian-Amer­i­can celebrity Kim Kar­dashian West high­lighted the is­sue.

Af­ter the vote she com­mented on the “in­cred­i­ble num­bers” in favour of the res­o­lu­tion.

Ar­me­nian Prime Min­is­ter Nikol Pashinyan de­scribed it as a “bold step to­wards serv­ing truth and his­tor­i­cal jus­tice” and praised Ar­me­nian-Amer­i­cans as “the driv­ing force and the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind to­day’s his­toric vote”.

Aram Ham­par­ian, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Ar­me­nian Na­tional Com­mit­tee of Amer­ica, said the vote ex­posed “Ankara’s at­tempts to en­list Amer­ica in its ob­struc­tion of jus­tice … which has, for far too long, been de­nied to the vic­tims and sur­viv­ing gen­er­a­tions of the Ar­me­nian geno­cide”.

Some ob­servers noted that the US was pun­ish­ing Tur­key for its Syria oper­a­tion.

“This de­ci­sion will not con­trib­ute to hav­ing an open dis­cus­sion about what re­ally hap­pened in the past,” said Selin Nasi, an an­a­lyst and re­searcher at Bospho­rus Univer­sity.

A coun­try whose his­tory is full of geno­cide, ex­ploita­tion and slav­ery has no right to give Tur­key les­sons RE­CEP TAYYIP ER­DO­GAN Pres­i­dent of Tur­key

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