04/26/07: Zaman: Jewish groups lobby against ‘Armenian genocide’ resolution in US Congress

In a letter addressing influential members of US Congress, including head of the House of Representatives' Foreign Relations Committee Tom Lantos, US-based Jewish groups demanded that voting on congressional resolutions urging the US administration to recognize an alleged genocide of Armenians be delayed.

The letter was jointly signed by B'nai B'rith International, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). The letter included an annex -- a letter signed by the Turkish Jewish Community -- which said maintenance of good relations between Turkey and Israel and among Turkey, the US and Israel were crucial at a time when the US faces troubles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two separate resolutions are pending at the US Senate and the House of Representatives, urging the administration to recognize the World war I era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide. Turkey has warned that passage of the resolutions in the US Congress would seriously harm relations with Washington and impair cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US administration has said it was opposed to the resolution, yet the congressional process is an independent one. In his message for April 24, which Armenians claim marks the anniversary of the beginning of a systematic genocide campaign at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire, US President George W. Bush remained adhered to the administration policy of not referring to the incidents as genocide.

"Each year on this day, we pause to remember the victims of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, when as many as 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, many of them victims of mass killings and forced exile," Bush said. Turkey categorically rejects the claims of genocide and says as many Turks were killed when the Armenians took up arms against the Ottoman Empire in collaboration with the invading Russian army.

Bush, in his message, also called for the normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia: "Today, we remember the past and also look forward to a brighter future. We commend the individuals in Armenia and Turkey who are working to normalize the relationship between their two countries. A sincere and open examination of the historic events of the late-Ottoman period is an essential part of this process. The United States supports and encourages those in both countries who are working to build a shared understanding of history as a basis for a more hopeful future," he said.

The Bush administration dismissed its former ambassador in Yerevan last year after he violated the US policy and called the events "genocide." Ambassador John Evans was insistent on his stance when he spoke at the National Press Club in Washington and said Turkey should accept "historical facts." He also claimed that Turkey's efforts had played a role in the abrupt termination of his duty as the US ambassador in Yerevan.

Source: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=109482