Turkey in last-ditch effort to block Armenian resolution

ANKARA
 
The Turkish government is making a last-ditch effort to prevent a vote by the US House of Representatives on a resolution declaring the World War I-era killings of Armenians a genocide and says it would deal a significant blow to the bilateral relationship between Ankara and Washington — defined by US President Barack Obama himself as “a model” relationship.
There were efforts to have a hastily arranged vote on the resolution on Friday but reports later said the issue was postponed, with the vote likely to take place on Tuesday. It was not clear whether the vote would take place when Today’s Zaman went into press. With the US State Department voicing its “strong opposition” to the resolution twice since Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has personally pledged to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu that all efforts would be exerted to keep it from being passed.
“We’ve made clear our opposition to that resolution,” State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters at a daily press briefing on Monday. “We are in touch with the House on this. I can’t say whether it’s the secretary, but we’ve been in touch with the House,” he said, when asked whether Clinton has been making calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or other people in the House.
In Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an sent a letter to President Obama on Monday, saying the resolution should not be on the House’s agenda, Davuto?lu said later on Monday as he was delivering a speech in Parliament during deliberations on his ministry’s budget.
“We cannot anymore allow these kinds of resolutions to hang over relations between Turkey and the US like a sword of Damocles,” Davuto?lu told Parliament. “[The] Turkish nation is determined to defend its national honor against these insults and impositions of memory,” he added. Turkey doesn’t want to think that Tuesday will mark a negative development in its relations with the US, Davuto?lu said in remarks published by Turkish daily newspaper Hürriyet on Tuesday.
“However, if the contrary happens, we will react within the framework of our national interests and sensitivities. Currently, we are working on ‘counter-steps’ which cannot be imagined by anybody,” Davuto?lu said, stressing that only four or five state officials, including the president and the prime minister, had information regarding the content of these planned “counter-steps.”
Democrats will hand over leadership of the House to Republicans next month and the Armenian-American lobby’s efforts are particularly aimed at bring the resolution to the floor for a vote in the final days of the current lame-duck Congress. A senior House aid said that “no decisions have been made” on whether the resolution will be added to the House schedule this week, The Hill, a congressional newspaper published daily when the US Congress is in session, reported. Several news reports, meanwhile, said there were indications that the resolution could come up for a vote on Tuesday.
In Washington, the Turkish Embassy has expanded the scope of its ongoing efforts by having the US Chamber of Commerce get involved in efforts to block the resolution, the Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday morning. Whether the House would have the resolution on its agenda was not expected to be clear until it opened 5 p.m. local time in Turkey, after Today’s Zaman went to print.
Officials at the embassy had been calling members of Congress as well as officials from the White House and the State Department, Anatolia said, noting that Ambassador Nam?k Tan was, meanwhile, calling former secretaries of defense and state and former counselors of the National Security Council.
In March, after the House Committee on Foreign Affairs endorsed the proposed resolution, Turkey, which sees the measure as an affront, withdrew its ambassador from Washington. Turkey denies the deaths of Armenians constituted genocide, arguing the numbers have been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.


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