Turkey recalls U.S. ambassador after genocide bill passes

Vancouver Sun, Canada
March 5 2010

Turkey recalls U.S. ambassador after genocide bill passes

By Ibon Villelabeitia, ReutersMarch 5, 2010

NATO-member Turkey on Thursday recalled its ambassador to the United
States for consultations after a vote in a U.S. congressional
committee branded the First World War mass killing of Armenians by
Ottoman forces genocide.

In a statement, Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan also said he
was seriously concerned that the non-binding resolution would harm
Turkish-U. S. ties and efforts by Muslim Turkey and Christian Armenia
to bury a century of hostility.

"We condemn this bill that blames the Turkish nation for a crime it
did not commit.

"Our Washington ambassador was invited to Ankara tonight for
consultations," Erdogan said in a statement posted on his office’s
website.

"We are seriously concerned that this bill approved by the committee,
despite all our warnings, will harm Turkey-U.S. ties and efforts to
normalize Turkey-Armenia relations." Turkey, a Muslim but secular
democracy, plays a vital role for U.S. interests from Iran to
Afghanistan to the Middle East.

Turkey and Armenia last year signed a historic deal to bury a century
of hostility and open their border.

The deal, signed with the endorsement of the United States, European
Union and Russia, still has to be ratified by both parliaments in
Ankara and Yerevan.

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians were killed by Ottoman
Turks but denies that up to 1.5 million died and that it amounted to
genocide — a term employed by many Western historians and some
foreign parliaments.

In 2007, Ankara recalled its ambassador after a U.S. panel approved a
similar bill.

Then-president George W. Bush warned against passage and the measure
never came to a vote on the House floor.

The ambassador returned to his post after one week.

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