Thu, Oct 11, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Turkey appeals to US to kill Armenian genocide legislation

HISTORY The dispute involves the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1917, which Turkey refuses to call a genocide


Turkey was making a final direct appeal to US lawmakers to reject a resolution that would declare the World War I-era killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians an act of genocide.

The House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee planned a vote yesterday on the measure that is opposed by the Bush administration.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul warned of "serious troubles in the two countries' relations" if the measure is approved.

Those threats were coming as Turkey's government was seeking parliamentary approval for a cross-border military operation to chase separatist Kurdish rebels who operate from bases in northern Iraq. The move, opposed by the US, could open a new war front in the most stable part of Iraq.

In Washington, Turkish members of parliament were making their case on the genocide resolution in meetings on Tuesday with members of the committee that will consider the genocide resolution.

"I have been trying to warn the lawmakers not to make a historic mistake," said Egemen Bagis, a close foreign policy adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A measure of the potential problem came in a warning the US Embassy in Ankara issued on Tuesday to US citizens in Turkey.

The statement said: "If, despite the administration's concerted efforts against this resolution, it passes committee and makes its way to the floor of the House for debate and a possible vote, there could be a reaction in the form of demonstrations and other manifestations of anti-Americanism throughout Turkey."

The basic dispute involves the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks from 1915-17, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey refuses to call it genocide, saying the death toll has been inflated, and insisting that the Armenians killed were victims of civil war and unrest as the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire collapsed before the birth of modern Turkey in 1923.

Armenian-American interest groups have also been rallying supporters.

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