News / Europe

Armenian Genocide Resolution Passes US Congress Committee

Kent Klein

A resolution calling the World War I -era killing of Armenians genocide has narrowly passed a key committee of the U.S. Congress.  Turkey has responded by recalling its ambassador from Washington for consultations.

Over the objections of the Obama administration, the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee (Thursday) passed the nonbinding resolution by a vote of 23 to 22.

The legislation declares that the killing of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire was genocide.

Almost immediately, Turkey's government ordered its ambassador to the United States to return to Ankara for consultations.

U.S. President Barack Obama had made a campaign promise in 2008 to declare the killings genocide.  But the U.S. has been working with Turkey and Armenia in their reconciliation efforts, which White House officials say have made progress.  The administration urged the committee not to offend Turkey by passing the resolution.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in San Jose, Costa Rica (Thursday) passage of the resolution could disrupt that reconciliation process.

"Both President Obama and I have made clear, both last year and again this year, that we do not believe any action by the Congress is appropriate, and we oppose it," said Hillary Clinton.

Turkey and Armenia signed an agreement in October to normalize relations, but Turkey's Parliament has yet to ratify it.  Shortly before the committee vote, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration prefers to work with the two countries toward reconciliation.

"Through some very tough diplomatic work by Secretary Clinton, we have made progress to the point at which we are on the cusp of normalization," said Gibbs. "The president believes that passage of these protocols in the Turkish parliament will make it that much easier."

Secretary Clinton spoke with the committee chairman, Democrat Howard Berman, on Wednesday and urged him to cancel the hearing or vote against the resolution.

Berman did neither.  At Thursday's hearing, he said the U.S.-Turkish relationship would remain strong regardless of the outcome of the committee vote.

"I believe the Turks, however deep their dismay today, fundamentally agree that the U.S.-Turkish alliance is simply too important to get sidetracked by a nonbinding resolution passed by the House of Representatives," said Howard Berman.

Berman and other supporters of the resolution said the U.S. has a moral obligation to speak out against genocide, to prevent it from happening again.

Republican Congressman Dan Burton opposed the resolution, pointing out that a U.S. Air Force base in Turkey is vital to American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Knowing that we may have to take some kind of military action down the road against maybe even Iran, we need to have as many friends in that part of the world as possible," said Dan Burton.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not said whether the genocide resolution will go to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

The Foreign Affairs Committee approved a similar genocide resolution in 2007.  After intensive pressure from then-President George W. Bush, the measure was not brought to the House floor.

Armenians say the killings of as many as 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 were the result of an orchestrated campaign by the Ottoman Turks.  

Turkish officials strongly reject the genocide label.  They say far fewer Armenians died and that they were killed in a civil war in which Turks also died.  

You May Like

Video Obama: Action on Climate Change 'Economic, Security Imperative'

President spoke to reporters on sidelines of UN Climate Summit outside Paris, where leaders are working to agree on binding measures

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs