United States resolution on Armenian Genocide

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The proposed Armenian Genocide resolution is a measure currently under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives that would recognize the 1915 Genocide. It is officially called H. Res 106[1] or the Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution. The resolution was introduced by Adam Schiff (a Democratic Party Representative for California) on January 30, 2007, during the 110th United States Congress. It is a non-binding resolution of the House alone, calling upon the U.S. President

Summary[edit]

Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution calls upon the President to ensure that U.S. foreign policy reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the U.S. record relating to the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution and in the President's annual message commemorating the Armenian Genocide to characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, and to recall the proud history of U.S. intervention in opposition to the Armenian Genocide.[2]

Current co-sponsors[edit]

As of now, including Rep. Schiff, the resolution has 215 co-sponsors.[3]

At least 11 representatives have withdrawn as cosponsors since October 15, 2007, and the number of cosponsors fell short of a majority of the House.[4][5]

Current status[edit]

Upon its introduction it was referred to United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs[6] where it passed a 27-21 vote and was sent back for a full house vote. On October 26, 2007, in a letter addressed to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, four key sponsors of the bill requested a debate on the bill in full House to be postponed.[7]

Background[edit]

Introduction of resolution[edit]

On October 11, 2007, regarding a proposed US House resolution 106, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said that the measure would be brought to a vote because "While that may have been a long time ago, genocide is taking place now in Darfur, it did within recent memory in Rwanda, so as long as there is genocide there is need to speak out against it..."[8] However, later she was forced to backtrack from a pledge to bring the measure for a vote because of a waning support for this resolution, since many believe that "angering Turkey would hamper efforts in Iraq".[9] Currently the resolution has 215 co-sponsors, comparing to 236 co-sponsors it had earlier this year.

Opposition[edit]

The bill has been opposed by the Republic of Turkey, as well as the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged US lawmakers to drop the resolution. She said: "I continue to believe that the passage of the ... Armenian genocide resolution would severely harm our relationships with Turkey".[10] While a candidate, U.S. President Barack Obama stated that he "stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide",[11] but his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured Turkey that the White House opposes the resolution. [12]

Eight former US secretaries of state, both Republican and Democrat, signed a petition calling for refraining from passing this resolution.[13]

Gregory Meeks, a Democrat representative from New York in the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, voted against the resolution, arguing that Congress should focus on the failings of U.S. history, such as slavery or the killings of Native Americans, before it starts condemning the histories of other countries. He said, "We have failed to do what we're asking other people to do ... We have got to clean up our own house." [14]

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former U.S. national security adviser, stated in an interview to CNN:

As far as a resolution is concerned, I never realized that the House of Representatives was some sort of an academy of learning that passes judgment on historical events. History's full of terrible crimes, and there is no doubt that many Armenians were massacred in World War I. But whether the House of Representatives should be passing resolutions whether that should be classified as genocide or a huge massacre is I don't think any of its business. It has nothing to do with passing laws, how to run the United States. That's where the constitution created the House of Representatives for.[15]

Columnist Charles Krauthammer expressed a similar view, stating "unequivocally" that the Armenian genocide happened, but "unequivocally" that "the U.S. House of Representatives [should not] be expressing itself on this now".[16] Krauthammer also reports that

Even Mesrob Mutafyan, patriarch of the Armenian community in Turkey, has stated that his community is opposed to the resolution, correctly calling it the result of domestic American politics.[16]

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter also stated in an interview to CNN: "I think if I was in Congress I would not vote for it."[17]

The resolution also received negative reactions in mass media. Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist expressed his surprise that “a Congress that has historically lacked the spine or heart to tackle the nation's ugliest legacies in a meaningful way is censuring Turkey”. The newspaper quotes Robert J. Miller, a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., who called it "unbelievable" that Congress is pointing fingers elsewhere while ignoring a U.S. history of black enslavement and the destruction and displacement of Indians.[18]

Republic of Turkey[edit]

Turkish ambassador Nabi Şensoy stated: "[genocide] is the greatest accusation of all against humanity... You cannot expect any nation to accept that kind of labeling."

According to the Washington Post, to defeat the initiative for the resolution, the Turkish government "is spending more than $300,000 a month on communications specialists and high-powered lobbyists, including former congressman Bob Livingston".[19]

On October 11, 2007, Gunduz Aktan, a member of the delegation of Turkish parliamentarians, who were in Washington to protest against the resolution, stated:

"What was bothering me yesterday was that those (US representatives) who were supporting the Turkish case, 21 of them, they said loud and clear that the events of 1915 amounted to genocide. Despite this fact, because of the strategic importance of Turkey, because of the national interest of the US, they are voting no. This was unbearable."[20]

Armenian diaspora[edit]

According to Newsweek:

Comments from Russia[edit]

"The Armenian Genocide resolution is a proper test for American democracy. It will uncover priorities of the United States – good relations with Turkey or historical truth", Russian State Duma member, Konstantin Zatulin told a news conference in Yerevan on 21 October 2007. [22]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (H.Res. 106)
  2. ^ Thomas.gov
  3. ^ Los Angeles Times. Who changed their minds, and when
  4. ^ Los Angeles Times. Genocide resolution's support is fading
  5. ^ New York Times. Support Wanes in House for Genocide Vote
  6. ^ http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/press_display.asp?id=430 Opening Statement by Chairman Lantos at markup of H. Res. 106
  7. ^ Agence France Presse. "Backers of Armenia genocide bill bow to White House pressure", October 26, 2007
  8. ^ "US House Speaker: Armenian Genocide Measure Will Go Forward". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  9. ^ The Wall Street Journal. How Turkey Could Undermine Iraq.
  10. ^ Forbes.com. Rice urges US Congress to drop Armenia 'genocide' Bill
  11. ^ "Barack Obama on the Importance of US-Armenia Relations". BarackObama.com. 2008-01-19. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  12. ^ http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/03/29/104363.html
  13. ^ Times Online. Stirring up the past, jeopardising the future
  14. ^ House panel OKs Armenian genocide resolution
  15. ^ CNN late edition with Wolf Blitzer, aired October 14, 2007 - 11:00 ET
  16. ^ a b "Charles Krauthammer - Pelosi's Armenian Gambit". washingtonpost.com. October 19, 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  17. ^ Brian Knowlton. "U.S. House speaker vows debate on Armenian genocide resolution", International Herald Tribune, Sunday, October 14, 2007
  18. ^ Richmond Times-Dispatch. Apologies needed for U.S. wrongs. Monday, Oct 22, 2007.
  19. ^ White House And Turkey Fight Bill On Armenia: Genocide Label for WWI-Era Killings Has House Support, By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, October 10, 2007
  20. ^ TURKISH MPS: BUSH ADMINISTRATION MUST MAKE GOODWILL GESTURE TO COMPENSATE FOR US HOUSE COMMITTEE VOTE, by Joshua Kucera, EurasiaNet, 10/11/07
  21. ^ Newsweek. A Fight Over an Ugly Past.
  22. ^ Константин Затулин: Планы Турции по вторжению в Ирак - "циничный, но грамотный блеф" (in Russian)