Turkey has furiously recalled its ambassador after US lawmakers voted to brand as “genocide” the killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War I.
Despite strong opposition from Turkey and the White House, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the symbolic resolution on Thursday, albeit by the slimmest 23-22 margin, and set the stage for a full vote in the House of Representatives.
Ankara, which had sent its own lawmakers to Washington to lobby US congressmen and warned of serious repercussions over the vote, responded by recalling Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan for consultations.
“We condemn this resolution, which accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed,” it said in a statement.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul also expressed his anger, saying the resolution had “no value in the eyes of the Turkish people” and warning it would deal a blow to fledgling efforts to end decades of hostility between Turkey and Armenia.
“Turkey will not be responsible for the negative ramifications that this vote may have in every field,” he said.
The non-binding resolution calls on US President Barack Obama to ensure that US foreign policy reflects an understanding of the “genocide” and to label the mass killings as such in his annual statement on the issue.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed during World War I by their Ottoman rulers as the empire was falling apart, a claim supported by several other countries.
Turkey argues 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in what was a civil strife when Armenians rose up for independence and sided with invading Russian troops.
The US has traditionally condemned the 1915 to 1918 killings, but refrained from calling them a “genocide,” anxious not to strain relations with Turkey.
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