Monday, October 08, 2007

Head of Turkey's Parliament tells U.S. House speaker Armenia genocide bill will harm ties

International Herald Tribune, France - Oct 7, 2007
The Associated Press
After decades of official cover-up, it is time for Turkey to admit the genocide of Ottoman Armenians. Turkey's greatness is no longer measured in power like it was during Ottoman times but it is measured in moral fortitude. For the sake of world civilization Turkey must do the right thing.
ISTANBUL, Turkey: The head of Turkey's Parliament warned the United States against passing an Armenian genocide bill, saying in a letter to the U.S. House speaker that the move would harm bilateral ties, his office said Sunday.

Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan said in his letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that "it might take decades to heal negative effects of the bill if it passes," Toptan's office said in a statement.

Toptan — who is elected by the legislative body to chair parliamentary sessions — is considered neutral toward all political parties.

The genocide bill declares the killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1917 a genocide, though it would have no binding effect on the U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to consider the legislation this week.

Toptan's letter said the passing of the bill would be declared by Armenians as a confirmation of their view of the historical dispute.

On Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told U.S. President George W. Bush that the measure would "harm the strategic partnership" between the two countries.

Toptan said Armenia did not respond positively to Turkish proposal to establish a commission of historians to examine Turkish and Armenian archives and to share their findings with the public.

Armenians say more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a systematic genocide in the hands of the Ottomans during the World War I, before modern Turkey was born in 1923.

Turkey says the death toll is inflated and that the deaths occurred at a time of civil unrest.

Public opinion polls show that the United States has become widely unpopular in Turkey because of opposition to U.S. policy in Iraq.

After France voted last year to make denial of Armenian genocide a crime, the Turkish government ended military ties. A similar move with the United States could have repercussions on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which rely heavily on Turkish support.

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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