(photo credit: Associated Press)
Turkey warned the Obama administration on Friday of negative diplomatic
consequences if it fails to impede a US resolution branding the World
War I-era killing of Armenians as genocide.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu said his country, a key Muslim ally of the US, would assess what
measures it would take, adding that the issue was a matter of "honor"
A US congressional committee approved the
measure Thursday. The 23-22 vote sends the measure to the full House of
Representatives, where prospects for passage are uncertain. Minutes
after the vote, Turkey withdrew its ambassador to the US
estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks
around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as
the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths
constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and those
killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
US President Barack Obama had objected to the resolution, but Turkey wants stronger action to block the resolution.
expect the US administration to, as of now, display more effective
efforts. Otherwise the picture ahead will not be a positive one,"
Davutoglu told reporters. He complained of a lack of "strategic vision"
Davutoglu said the Obama administration had not
put sufficient weight behind efforts to block the vote and called on
Washington to do more to prevent the measure from now going to the full
The measure was approved at a time when Washington is
expected to press Turkey to back sanctions against Iran to be approved
in the UN Security Council, where Turkey currently holds a rotating seat.
Turkish cooperation is also important to US operations in Iraq and
Also at stake are defense contracts. Turkey is an
important market for US defense companies, many of which had lobbied
against the measure.
Davutoglu said the US ambassador in Turkey had been
called to the country's Foreign Ministry for talks. The ambassador, James
Jeffrey, told reporters Friday: "We oppose the resolution."
foreign minister said Turkey was determined to press ahead with efforts
to normalize ties with Armenia, but said Turkey would not be
"pressured" into doing so.
He added that the vote had put the ratification of agreements to normalize ties with Armenia into jeopardy.
year, Turkey and Armenia agreed to normalize ties by establishing
diplomatic relations and reopen their shared border, but the agreements
have yet to be approved by their parliaments.
Turkey has been dragging its feet, fearful of upsetting ally
Azerbaijan, which balks at any suggestion of the reopening of the
border until its own dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh is
settled. The region in Azerbaijan has been under Armenian control.
groups have sought congressional affirmation of the killings as
genocide for decades and welcomed Thursday's vote.
The vote also
came at a time when relations with the United States — strained by
Turkey's refusal to allow its territory to be used for the invasion of
Iraq — had recently improved. Turkey was the first Muslim country Obama
visited after taking office.