Howard Berman: Turks, Once They Come To Terms With Their Past, Will


July 29, 2010 – 12:30 AMT 07:30 GMT

In his opening statement at today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee
hearing, Chairman Howard Berman stated “it is critical that Turkey
acknowledge the genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire against the
Armenian people… I believe that Turks, once they come to terms with
their past, will discover that they have relieved themselves and their
children of an immense moral burden,” reported the Armenian Assembly
of America.

“We commend Chairman Berman’s ongoing leadership regarding the
need to unequivocally affirm the Armenian Genocide,” stated the
Assembly’s Grassroots Director Taniel Koushakjian. “As the House of
Representatives looks to its August district work period, this hearing
provides a timely review of important issues and lends new impetus on
the need for Congress to adopt the Armenian Genocide resolution,” added
Koushakjian. Earlier this year, Chairman Berman was instrumental in
the committee passage of H. Res. 252, the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

While deterioration of U.S.-Turkey relations served as a focal point
in today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “Turkey’s New
Foreign Policy Direction: Implications for U.S.-Turkish Relations,”
Committee Members also discussed the importance of the Armenian
Genocide and other human rights issues.

Congressman Christopher Smith, in a series of questions, recalled the
words of philosopher George Santayana, who stated “those who cannot
remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Congressman Smith
raised concerns about Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, the
denial of the genocide in Darfur coupled with Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s defense of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir,
who has been indicted on charges of genocide by the International
Criminal Court (ICC). Based on a 2009 interview of Erdogan who stated,
“No Muslim could perpetrate a genocide,” Rep. Smith asked Ambassador
Ross Wilson “what does this say about his judgment?”

Congressman Jim Costa pointed out the overwhelming evidence of
the Armenian Genocide, and also raised the topic of Armenia-Turkey
rapprochement and the Protocols signed between the two countries in
2009. Congressman Costa asked about progress in “country to country
relations.” Dr. Michael Rubin, Resident Scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute, indicated that progress had been made through
“quiet diplomacy” while Dr. Ian Lesser, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at
the German Marshall Fund, responded that it will take a “significant
recommitment” of the political leadership in Turkey. Dr. Lesser
also indicated that Armenia-Turkey rapprochement is important in
“its own right” and without being “linked” to other issues such as
Nagorno Karabakh.

From: A. Papazian

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