Turkey rejects US resolution on Armenian claims

Wed 30 Oct 2019 05:38 GMT | 09:38 Local Time

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Turkey rejects a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Armenian claims, the country’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, Anadolu Agency reported.

“We reject the resolution H.R. 296 entitled ‘Affirming the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide’ that is adopted today by the U.S. House of Representatives as expressing the sense of the latter,” the ministry said in a statement, referring to the events of 1915.

Earlier, the House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing the so-called Armenian genocide, with lawmakers voting 405-11.

“The resolution, which has apparently been drafted and issued for domestic consumption, is devoid of any historical or legal basis,” the ministry said.

Noting that the resolution is not legally binding and a “meaningless political step,” the ministry said it is only addressed to the Armenian lobby and anti-Turkey groups.

“Those who felt defeated for not being able to forestall Operation Peace Spring would be highly mistaken should they think they could take vengeance this way,” it said, referring to Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northern Syria that was launched on Oct. 9.

It added that the Turkish government and people consider the resolution “totally null and void.”

“The resolution as it stands is both against U.S. and international law as it is an incrimination against the principles defined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” it said, noting the absence of any verdict from a competent court announcing the 1915 events as a crime of genocide.

“On the contrary, the European Court of Human Rights delivered a milestone judgment which stipulates that the 1915 events constitute a legitimate subject for debate,” it noted.

The ministry also underlined that the debate on the events is about history, not politics, and recalled Turkey’s proposal made in 2005 on the establishment of a Joint Historical Commission.

It said the proposal was rejected by the Armenian side.

“Undoubtedly, this resolution will negatively affect the image of the U.S. before the public opinion of Turkey as it also brings the dignity of the U.S. House of Representatives into disrepute,” the ministry said.

‘Resolution null and void’

“Ruined big game w/#OperationPeaceSpring,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also wrote on Twitter following the approval of the resolution.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring earlier this month to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

“Those whose projects [in northern Syria] were frustrated turn to antiquated resolutions. Circles believing that they will take revenge this way are mistaken. This shameful decision of those exploiting history in politics is null&void for our Government&people,” he added.

Turkey’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also warned that those who voted in favor of the resolution will be responsible for the “deterioration” of bilateral ties.

“The U.S. House of Representatives vote on the Armenian Resolution is deeply troublesome for anyone who cares about the US-Turkey relationship. Those who voted for this resolution will be responsible for the deterioration of a critical strategic relationship in a turbulent region,” Altun wrote on Twitter.

Touching on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s stance regarding the events, Altun said: “President @RTErdogan has already expressed sympathy and conveyed his condolences to the Armenian community. He also expressed our willingness to establish a joint historical commission to investigate what happened during the First World War.”

Altun also urged the Armenian people not to let their history become “a tool of domestic political considerations,” adding Turks and Armenians lived together in the region for centuries.

“Politicization of history for political needs is unacceptable,” he said.

He also warned of interventions from third countries.

“History taught us that such interventions by outsiders, who have already brought much pain to our region, will not bring any good to our relations.”

Turkey’s Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also condemned the resolution on Twitter.

“Armenian resolution of the U.S. House of Representatives is one of the embarrassing examples of using history as a tool of politics.

“Those who accuse Turkey of genocide should look at their history first and the bloody history of the Asala and PKK terror groups.”

Founded in 1975, the Armenian terror group ASALA is responsible for hundreds of bloody terrorist attacks. It martyred more than 30 Turkish diplomats and officials in various attacks during that decade.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Turkey's position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.

Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to examine the issue.

Draft bill on sanctions

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the approval of a draft bill that foresees sanctions on Turkey on the grounds of Operation Peace Spring.

Bipartisan U.S. lawmakers also passed a bill 403-16 that seeks to impose sanctions on Turkey over its anti-terror operation in northern Syria.

“We strongly condemn the adoption of a draft bill that envisages sanctions against Turkey on the basis of Operation Peace Spring in the U.S. House of Representatives today [Oct. 29],” the ministry said in a statement.

“The draft bill, which targets our senior officials and our Armed Forces, is incompatible with the spirit of our NATO Alliance and contradicts the agreement reached on Syria with the U.S. Administration on 17 October,” it added, referring to a deal to pause the operation for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone.

It also noted that the U.S. officials -- who disregarded the difference between an ally country and a terror group and also legitimized a terrorist group with their rhetoric and actions -- cannot achieve anything with unilateral sanction threats.

“We urge the U.S. Congress not to exploit bilateral issues for domestic political consumption and to act in line with the spirit of our Alliance and partnership.

“We call on the U.S. Administration to take necessary steps to prevent the further deterioration of our relations,” it noted.

Altun also slammed the approval of the draft bill.

“Attempting to sanction a NATO ally in order to protect a terror organization can only [be] described as a strategic shortsightedness and detachment from realities on the ground.”

“The House of Representatives’ draft bill threatening sanctions against Turkey is in direct contradiction to the spirit of a strategic alliance,” he added.

Altun noted that the draft bill cannot deter Turkey’s resolute stance to fight terrorism and said the bill only threatens to damage bilateral relations.

“These brazen efforts to damage our relationship will have long-lasting detrimental consequences in many areas of existing bilateral cooperation.

“We will continue to convey our legitimate security concerns in all international platforms and to fight against terrorism in all its forms for international security and peace in our region,” he added.

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