Turkey backpedaling on Armenia ties, US lawmakers say

Aug 1 2009

Turkey backpedaling on Armenia ties, US lawmakers say

Saturday, 01 August 2009 08:26

Pro-Armenian members of the US House of Representatives step up their
efforts on normalization talks between Ankara and Yerevan, slamming
Turkey over what they call a reversal on the proposed ‘road map.’
Turkey’s position is in conflict with the US policy that normalization
should take place without preconditions, they say

More than 80 pro-Armenian members of the U.S. House of Representatives
sent a letter Thursday to President Barack Obama, complaining that
Turkey is failing to keep its pledge to move to normalize relations
with Armenia.
The letter said Turkey was in violation of an April deal with Yerevan.

`While the government of Armenia remains committed to this road map
and has long offered to establish ties with Turkey without
preconditions, Turkey’s public statements and actions since April 24
stand in sharp contrast to this agreement and undermine U.S. policy
that normalization take place without preconditions,’ the lawmakers
said in the letter.

According to the representatives, Turkey’s position is in conflict
with the U.S. policy `that normalization should take place without
preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe.’

Eighty-one lawmakers out the 435 members of the House of
Representatives signed the letter sent to Obama one day before the
House went on a one-month summer recess.

Reps. Frank Pallone, Mark Kirk, Adam Schiff and George Radanovich
initiated the letter July 10. The four are also the lead co-sponsors
of a House resolution affirming the U.S. record on Armenian claims of
genocide. The text of the letter was circulated to secure additional
congressional co-signers. Signatories to the letter included
Democratic Congressman Howard Berman from California, who is the
chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The genocide issue

Pro-Armenian lawmakers are planning to step up efforts to ensure the
passage of an `Armenian genocide resolution’ pending in the House
after Congress reopens in September, analysts said.

Turkey and Armenia signed a document April 22, pledging to work to
normalize their relations. Although their road map has not been made
public, sources said it includes the setting up of full diplomatic
relations, and, more importantly, the reopening of the two neighbors’
land border, which has been closed for 16 years.

In the wake of the April document’s signing, President Obama declined
to describe the World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman
empire as `genocide’ in his annual statement on April 24, the day of
commemoration of the Armenian deaths.

Obama said he fully supported the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation

The president’s decision not to say the word `genocide’ disappointed
members of the Armenian diaspora in the United States.

Though separate from other matters in principle, the normalization
process is indirectly related to an international effort to resolve
the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh problem between Armenia and
Azerbaijan, a close ally and friend of Turkey.

Armenia has occupied the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and part of
Azerbaijan proper since a war in the early 1990s. Though an uneasy
cease-fire is in place, a peace agreement has never been
signed. Diplomats privately admit that no major progress has been made
on either front since April.

2657-turkey-backpedaling-on-armenia-ties-us-lawmak ers-say.html