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US Senate passes resolution recognising Armenian genocide

December 13, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Armenians are seen during a New Year’s mass at St. Sarkis Church on 1 January 2017 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

The US Senate has unanimously passed a resolution yesterday, officially recognising the Armenian genocide committed by the Ottoman government during World War I.

Senator Bob Menendez announced on Twitter yesterday: “Our resolution to recognise and commemorate the #ArmenianGenocide just passed the United States Senate.”

“It is the policy” of the US, the resolution asserts, to remember and commemorate the genocide “through official recognition and remembrance.”

The passing of this resolution brings to a head an issue that has long been controversial, in relation to the further tension and deterioration of ties between the US and Turkey, in already strained relations. It comes after months of going back and forth in the US government, with the US House of Representatives having already officially recognised the mass killing of Armenians – commonly referred to as the Armenian genocide – by the Ottoman Empire in 1915.

Following Turkish President Erdogan’s visit to the White House last month during talks on the situation in northern Syria, the Trump administration ordered a number of senators, including Lindsey Graham, to block the resolution, in order to preserve and improve ties between the two nations. One senator, Kevin Cramer, stressed that it was not “the right time” to pass such a resolution.

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During Erdogan’s visit and talks with President Trump, he called on the US and historians to review the facts and reconsider the historical narrative of the genocide, which Turkey has long insisted was exaggerated and distorted.

“If the US side really wants to act fairly, it should refrain from taking a political stand on a matter that historians should decide,” asserted Erdogan.

With both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate now officially recognising the atrocities as a genocide, they have defied Trump and are seen to have risked diplomatic efforts to improve relations with Turkey.

Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, condemned and responded to the passing of the resolution, arguing that it is “nothing more than a political show” and that it is “not legally binding and has no validity whatsoever.” He accused those who voted in favour of the resolution as “cowards unwilling to face the truth” wanting to “exploit history for political ends.”