News Reports - Turkey
US-Turkish relations on the rocks
Sezer and Ecevit call on American Administration to fight passage of a bill recognizing the so-called Armenian genocide
September 22 — Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer expressed anger at the approval by the human rights panel of the House International Relations Committee of the bill on the so-called Armenian genocide.
Sezer, in a message conveyed to the American ambassador to Ankara, Robert Pearson, called on the U.S. Administration to fight against ratification of the bill in the House of Representatives, indicating that U.S.-Turkish relations would suffer if it is passed. The president called Ambassador Pearson to the presidential palace yesterday to deliver his message. Sezer delivered the same message to American President Bill Clinton at the recent U.N. summit of world leaders in New York at the beginning of September. Sezer had said in that letter that joint relations would be hurt and strategic cooperation between the two Nato allies wrecked if the bill were to advance.
ECEVIT: DECISION DISTRESSING
Prime Minister Ecevit also reacted harshly to the news that the measure was advancing towards a possible House vote. “I am hoping the administration will show the House the correct path.” Ecevit, praising the U.S. position as the global leader, said, “How sad it is to see that a handful of irresponsible politicians are so effective in formulating foreign policies,” adding that it was distressing to see congressmen promoting unfounded claims.
In response to a question as to whether the government would consider restricting American use of Incirilik airbase or reconsider a helicopter tender awarded to an American firm, Ecevit said the American Administration was responding to questions by the Turkish government. He said all that was left to be done was action.
FOREIGN MINISTRY’S PLAN OF ACTION
The Foreign Ministry immediately formed a plan of action against a possible threat posed by Armenia in the wake of the bill’s approval in the House sub-committee. Measures will be discussed at a meeting to to be attended by a lieutenant general of the Turkish General Staff. One of the choices open to them is to shore-up an already tight embargo on Armenia, imposed because of Armenia’s conflict with neighborng Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabach. The Foreign Ministry had warned before yesterday’s vote that Turkish-Armenian relations would be damaged further if the bill were passed.
Meanwhile, Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II said that if the bill were to be made a law, relations between Armenians and Turks in Turkey would be injured. He said the question of “genocide” should not be debated on a political platform, but by Turkish and Armenian historians. He pointed out that Armenians make up the largest group of non-Muslims in the country, and urged the Turkish government to not allow developments in other countries to harm Turkish citizens.