Rep. Schiff Blasts Mischaracterization Of Meeting With Turkish Deleg

REP. SCHIFF BLASTS MISCHARACTERZATION OF MEETING WITH TURKISH DELEGATION AS REPORTED IN TODAY’S ZAMAN

US Fed News
December 20, 2007 Thursday 12:24 AM EST

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) today strongly condemned an article
in the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman that mischaracterized a meeting
that he had in early December with a group of young Turkish political
leaders. The article, entitled "US Democrat Schiff ‘Surprised’
by Turkish Side of Armenian Story," included a manufactured quote
from Congressman Schiff that implied that Schiff was rethinking his
position on the Armenian Genocide.

In a letter to the editor of Today’s Zaman, Schiff reiterated his
unwavering support for genocide recognition, saying that:

"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 Twentieth Century. I said that I believed that the decades
of denial of the genocide was, in the words of Nobel laureate Elie
Wiesel, a "double killing" and that millions of Armenians worldwide
were still suffering, even after more than 90 years had passed."

He also criticized the Turkish daily for its poor journalism and
noted that the episode is emblematic of Ankara’s campaign of denial:

"While I certainly did not expect the Turkish delegates to accept my
views, I did not expect them to completely mischaracterize mine and
for your paper to misquote me – never bothering to contact my office
to find out what in fact I said. While I am troubled by the misquote
and deliberate nature of the misrepresentation, I realize that this
is another small episode in a decades-long campaign of denial and
self-delusion that has poisoned generations of your countrymen and
has been a persistent irritant in relations between our two countries."

The full text of the letter is below:

To the Editor:

The article in today’s edition of your newspaper, "US Democrat
Schiff ‘Surprised’ by Turkish Side of Armenian Story," grossly
mischaracterizes the meeting that I had earlier this month with a
Turkish delegation.

The meeting, which was arranged by the American Council of Young
Political Leaders (ACYPL), was intended to promote a frank and open
dialogue between a younger generation of Turkish politicians and
opinion-makers and the Congress. In setting up the meeting, the ACYPL
wanted to afford the Turkish members of the delegation the chance to
discuss my position on the importance of American recognition of the
Armenian Genocide that would afford both sides the opportunity better
understand why so many Members of Congress believe that this is the
right thing to do for America and for Turkey. Having followed Turkish
press coverage of this issue for several years, I looked forward to
the opportunity to have a dialogue that was candid and unfiltered with
a group of new leaders, perhaps less wedded to the dogmas of their
party elders. This is consistent with my open-door policy of meeting
with those who share as well as those who disagree with my views.

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 Twentieth Century. I said that I believed that the decades
of denial of the genocide was, in the words of Nobel laureate Elie
Wiesel, a "double killing" and that millions of Armenians worldwide
were still suffering, even after more than 90 years had passed.

I also emphasized that modern Turkey’s denial of the genocide
was hurting Turkey and jeopardizing the country’s accession to the
European Union. I was especially emphatic in raising the issue of
Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which makes it a crime to insult
"Turkishness," a thinly-veiled reference to the genocide.

Having met the courageous journalist Hrant Dink, I told them I
thought it was a travesty to prosecute his son for publishing his
murdered father’s words. Why would a modern nation go to such lengths
to criminalize the discussion of an historical event if it was not
the truth?

I also listened to the delegation members, who were eager to share
their views with me and had told me that they considered obtaining
this meeting the highlight of their time in Washington, D.C. and
our meeting, which lasted the better part of an hour, was lively
and interesting.

While I certainly did not expect the Turkish delegates to accept my
views, I did not expect them to completely mischaracterize mine and
for your paper to misquote me – never bothering to contact my office
to find out what in fact I said. While I am troubled by the misquote
and deliberate nature of the misrepresentation, I realize that this
is another small episode in a decades-long campaign of denial and
self-delusion that has poisoned generations of your countrymen and
has been a persistent irritant in relations between our two countries.

In 2003, I had the pleasure of a brief stop in Turkey on my way back
from a visit to our troops in Iraq. The Turkish people, well aware
of my views, were nonetheless warm and hospitable, and keenly aware
of the importance of their alliance with the United States. That
alliance can and must survive the truth. Our relationship will be
better for it and, more importantly, Turkey will be as well.

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