Resolution gets extra push

Resentment toward Turkey has helped congressional efforts.

June 26, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago,

DOWNTOWN — Following weeks of bitter resentment toward Turkey for its support of an aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip, Armenian organizations are doubling up on efforts to push through a nonbinding congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey's refusal to retreat from efforts to send supplies to Israel's Gaza Strip has breathed new life into Rep. Adam Schiff's (D-Burbank) long-stalled Affirmation of the U.S. Record on the Armenian Genocide since U.S. officials are less fearful of angering the strategic military ally in the Middle East.

Those fears for decades have dissuaded Congress from officially recognizing as genocide the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million Armenians at the hand of Ottoman Turks. Turkey's actions have served to bolster the argument that for too long the United States has surrendered to its political bullying.


There are now 144 U.S. Representatives signed on as co-sponsors of the genocide resolution, although that number has remained flat in the days since the surge in support on Congress.

"What we're seeing is the recognition that Turkey is unreliable as an ally," said Lerna Shirinian, director of government relations for the Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region. "And the willingness of the members of Congress that have allowed Turkey to impose its will, I think that willingness has decreased."

With Congressional recess approaching, the Armenian National Committee's eastern region is pushing for meetings with representatives in search of new sponsorship, Shirinian said.

"We have the votes, and the political environment has turned a little bit in our favor," she said. "In the end it's nonbinding, just words. But it's the words of the most powerful nation in the world and I think that holds a lot of water and sets the stage for ever more countries to commemorate the genocide and hopefully force Turkey to come to terms with its past."

Turkey supported the six-ship flotilla that was stopped by Israel from carrying aid to Gaza. Nine Turkish citizens died after Israeli commandos boarded the ships ahead of an Israeli blockade. Turkish officials condemned Israel and called for an international investigation of the incident.

U.S. representatives cited Turkey's refusal to join the international community in support of the latest round of sanctions against Iran and instead partner with Brazil in announcing a separate nuclear deal.

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