Gul: "Ball in the US' court for resolution of 'genocide' tension"
President Abdullah Gul on Wednesday dismissed further talks with the US administration on easing tensions over a congressional panel vote endorsing the so-called Armenian "genocide" claims, saying the ball is in the US' court now to repair ties. Speaking to a group of reporters en route from Cameroon to Turkey, Gul said he had already discussed the matter with US President Barack Obama in a phone conversation they had right before the March 4 US House Committee on Foreign Affairs vote. "We spoke once already, and I won't speak once again," Gul said. "We have already said what we have to say and done what we have to do. The rest is up to them." Turkey recalled its ambassador in Washington and canceled senior-level contacts with the US following the committee's passage of the resolution. Ankara faults the US administration for not doing enough to block the vote – apparently out of a belief that this could pressure Ankara to ratify two protocols pending in Parliament to normalize ties with Armenia – and wants a clear and solid message that it is opposed to such moves by legislatures to judge history. Turkey rejects the so-called Armenian claims of "genocide" at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, arguing that both Turks and Armenians were killed as Armenians revolted against the Ottoman Empire in collaboration with the Russian army for an Armenian state in eastern Anatolia. Gul also dismissed suggestions that there was a slowdown in Turkey's process to join the European Union. Gul said the process is in a "routine" phase, where EU experts check the compatibility of Turkish laws with EU standards, and that technical accession negotiations are being opened on policy chapters one by one. He said the main challenge is raising Turkey's standards. "Once we catch up with EU standards, it will only take five minutes to open and close the negotiating chapters," he said, stressing that once Turkey meets the EU's political and economic standards, skeptics of Turkey's accession will change their minds. He also rejected suggestions that Turkey's ambitious democratic initiative is on hold, saying that reforms have already improved standards. He rebuked Israel, saying that even its closest ally, the US, is now disturbed by Israeli policies. "If even the US is disturbed, one needs to think about this," he said.