United States/Armenia/Turkey

Turkey furious at US Armenian genocide vote

Reuters

US lawmakers drew fierce criticism from Turkey on Thursday by ruling that the mass deportations and executions of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War One constituted genocide. The Turkish government immediately condemned the resolution and recalled its ambassador from Washington.

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The members of the congressional House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the non-binding resolution by just 23-22 on Thursday. It will now go to the House of Representatives for a full vote.

The resolution calls on President Barack Obama to ensure that US foreign policy reflects an understanding of the so-called genocide and to publicly refer to the killings as such.

"We condemn this resolution which accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed," responded Turkey's government in a statement.

Advising that the vote would "adversely affect" Turkey's cooperation with the US, the statement announced that Turkey's ambassador in Washington, Namık Tan, would immediately return to Ankara.

President Abdullah Gül declared that the resolution had "no value in the eyes of the Turkish people" and warned that it could significantly set back recent advances in Turkish-Armenian relations.

"Turkey will not be responsible for the negative ramifications that this vote may have in every field," he stressed.

Yet Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday that Turkey would maintain its efforts to normalise relations with Armenia, despite urging the White House to block the resolution.

Turkey and Armenia signed protocols in October to end their longstanding hostility, but have not yet ratified the accords in parliament.

Armenia claims that up to 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by their Ottoman rulers between 1915-17, while Turkey says that between 300,000 and 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in what was a civil conflict caused by the Armenians' bid for independence.

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