Bush Condemns 1915 Killings By Ottoman Turks


Oct 10 2007

Top White House officials sent a clear message to Congress on Wednesday
urging lawmakers to reject a resolution that would declare the 1915
mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks a genocide.

Speaking after a meeting with the President and other top leaders,
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said passing such a resolution
would be "very destabilizing" to the United States’ efforts in the
Middle East.

Modern day Turkey has maintained that those estimates are not only
inflated, but that they were victims of civil war rather than of
genocide. It’s a distinction Turkey, one of the United States’
strongest allies in the Middle East, has said it vehemently opposes
and has warned of strained ties if such a resolution is passed.

"We are all in agreement that the passage of this resolution
would be very destabilizing to our efforts in the Middle East. Very
destabilizing to our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan because Turkey,
as an important strategic ally, is very critical in supporting the
efforts that we’re making in these critical areas."

Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with the President
just hours before the House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled
to begin marking up the resolution, Affirmation of the U.S. Record
on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, to prepare was to begin marking
up the bill before it makes it way to the House floor next week.

Gates warned that Turkey is vital in allowing the U.S. to use its
airspace to fly 95 percent of the U.S. military’s latest protective
equipment over to troops in Iraq. And that reliance he said was too
important to strain ties over an event that took place during the
World War I era.

"As you know, we’re airlifting this MRAPs, these mine-resistant
ambush-protective vehicles, right now into Iraq. Ninety-five percent of
those MRAPs going into Iraq right now are flying, are being flown in
through Turkey. And so our heavy dependence on the Turks for access
is really the reason the commanders raised this and why we’re so
concerned about the resolution."

Rice said the U.S. government has encouraged Turkish leaders to work
with the Armenian government to reconcile and overcome its violent
past. However she warned U.S. involvement in the matter will be "very
problematic" during a time when the country needs Turkey the most.

"This was not to ignore what was a really terrible situation. And
we recognize the feelings of those who want to express their concern
and their disdain for what happened many years ago. But the passage
of this resolution at this time would, indeed, be very problematic
for everything that we’re trying to do in the Middle East because
we are very dependent on a good Turkish strategic ally to help with
our efforts."


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