Thursday, October 11, 2007

Armenia hails US committee's backing of 'genocide' bill

11 Oct. 2007
ABC Online, Australia

Armenia has hailed a controversial vote by a US House of Representatives committee branding the Ottoman Empire's World War I massacre of Armenians as genocide.

"This is a very important step towards establishing justice," Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Karapetian told AFP in Yerevan.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian meanwhile insisted in Brussels that "there is no doubt anywhere in the world about the events that took place in Turkey in 1915 and there is a consensual attitude towards those events."

"The fact that Turkey has adopted a position of denial of genocide does not mean that it can bind other states to deny the historic truth as well," he added.

The committee defied warnings from President George W Bush and Turkey's authorities, voting Wednesday in favour of the resolution by 27 votes to 21.

In a statement on Thursday, the Turkish Government condemned the committee's action and warned against any move to take it to a full House vote.

To do so, it added, would jeopardise a strategic partnership with an ally and friend and would be an "irresponsible attitude".

The text of the resolution says the "genocide" should be acknowledged fully in US foreign policy towards Turkey, along with "the consequences of the failure to realise a just resolution".

Mr Kocharian is has expressed optimism about future dialogue.

"We hope that this process will lead to full recognition by the United States of America of the effect of the Armenian genocide," said.

The Armenian head of state said that his country's relations with Turkey could not be further worsened by the US vote, and he invited Turkey to launch a dialogue.

"In our case, there is nothing that can be worsened or limited by the adoption of this resolution," he said.

"We are ready for diplomatic relations without any preconditions and we are ready to start a very wide dialogue with Turkish partners on all possible issues of Turkish-Armenia relations," he added.

The Armenians say 1.5 million of their kinsmen were killed from 1915 to 1923 under an Ottoman Empire campaign of deportation and murder.

Rejecting the genocide label, Turkey argues that 250,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia during World War I.


Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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