Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Turkish PM says U.S. vote on genocide to "greatly harm" ties

WASHINGTON - A U.S. resolution that branded as genocide the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War One will seriously damage U.S.-Turkish relations, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on March 6.
NATO member Turkey, an ally crucial to U.S. interests in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East, has expressed its outrage at the March 4 non-binding vote in the Foreign Affairs committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, and recalled its envoy to the United States for consultations.
"The decision of the Foreign Affairs Committee will not hurt Turkey, but it will greatly harm bilateral relations, interests and vision. Turkey will not be the one who loses," said Erdogan, speaking at a summit of Turkish businessmen.
The Obama administration made a last-minute appeal against the resolution and has vowed to stop the vote, which was broadcast live on Turkish television, from going further in Congress.
Turkey, a vital location for oil and gas pipelines between East and West, including the U.S.-backed Nabucco Pipeline bypassing Russia, has said the resolution could jeopardize a fragile drive by Turkey and Armenia to end a century of hostilities and lead to further instability in the south Caucasus, a region crisscrossed by oil and gas pipelines to Europe.
Turkey's ambassador to the United States told journalists upon his return on Saturday it was unclear when he would head back to Washington following his talks with the president, prime minister and foreign minister.
"I will return when the time is right ... We will have to wait and see," Namik Tan said. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted in a media report as saying that the consultations could last "a long time."
The resolution urges Obama to use the term "genocide" when he delivers his annual message on the Armenian massacres in April.
Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks but denies that up to 1.5 million died and that it amounted to genocide - a term employed by many Western historians and some foreign parliaments.

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