Sunday, December 23, 2007

Schiff refutes deputy’s account of meeting

Today's Zaman İstanbul

US Congressman Adam Schiff has denied he was "surprised" when a Turkish lawmaker told him the story of his family, a survivor of Armenian atrocities in the course of World War I in eastern Anatolia, during a recent meeting in Washington.

Schiff, in a letter to Today's Zaman, said a story in the paper based on lawmaker Burhan Kayatürk's account and published on Dec. 20, "grossly mischaracterizes" the meeting he had earlier this month with a Turkish delegation, arranged by the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL).

Kayatürk, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said he had explained that Turks and Armenians killed each other during civil strife when Armenians cooperated with the invading Russian army and revolted against the Ottoman Empire. He said his grandfather was one of the Muslims killed by the Armenians at that time and called on US congressmen not to deepen hostilities by pressing the administration to recognize Armenian claims that the events amounted to genocide of Armenians.

In response, Schiff said, according to Kayatürk, that he was surprised by what he heard and that it was the first time he heard a different account of the events. In his letter to Today's Zaman, however, Schiff denied having made such comments and insisted that he reiterated his outright position in favor of the Armenian claims.

"I told the delegation that the historical record was unequivocal -- that 1.5 million Armenians perished at the hands of the Ottoman Empire between 1915-1923 and that this tragedy constituted the first genocide of the 20th century," he said, adding, "Turkey's denial of the genocide is hurting Turkey and jeopardizing the country's accession to the European Union."

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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