Turkey continues pressure on US govt to counter "genocide" resolution
Ahead of today's US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee vote on a resolution to officially recognize the so-called Armenian "genocide" claims, parliamentary delegations yesterday continued efforts to block its passage amid warnings from top Turkish officials that if it goes through, it could harm relations between Turkey and the US as well as derail the ongoing Turkish-Armenian rapprochement. Speaking to reporters in Washington, Murat Mercan, the head of Parliament's Foreign Relations Commission, said that they were continuing to hold talks with US congressmen to convince them to defeat the resolution. However, Mercan said it seems more likely that the resolution will pass the committee, adding that they would keep working to stop it coming to a full House vote. Stating that Turkish-US ties are currently at a peak, Mercan yesterday also told a conference at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that passage of the resolution would damage relations between the two close allies. Istanbul Deputy and former Ambassador to Washington Ambassador Sukru Elekdag, also in the US capital, warned of fallout from the resolution, saying that it would have an unavoidable negative impact on Turkish-US cooperation. The Obama administration, which Ankara called on to show more efforts to block the resolution, kept its silence until yesterday. Observers claimed the US' "strategic silence" was meant to force Turkey to ratify rapprochement protocols with Armenia, which the two countries signed late last year towards normalized relations. Commenting on the administration's failure to take action against the resolution so far, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, "Turkey expects the US administration to give necessary messages on the resolution. Taking a decision that would disturb a country like Turkey, which does a great deal to promote peace and stability both regionally and globally, would be extremely unreasonable. We hope the committee members don't make a mistake." In related news, in a letter to fellow congressmen, Ed Whitfield, a co-chair of the House of Representatives' Turkish Friendship Group, said passage of the resolution would harm the future of relations with Turkey, stressing the importance of continued cooperation with Turkey on a number issues of common concern such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism. "President Obama paid his first overseas visit to Turkey [after taking office last year], and this shows how important Turkey is for the US," he said, also warning that passage of the resolution would ruin the already delicate normalization process between Turkey and Armenia.