08 10 2007 - Turkey warns U.S. not to pass Armenian genocide bill
Turkey warns U.S. not to pass Armenian genocide bill
The Associated PressPublished: October 7, 2007
ISTANBUL: The head of Parliament has warned the United States Congress not to pass an Armenian genocide bill, saying in a letter to the House speaker that the move would harm bilateral ties, his office said Sunday.
The speaker of Parliament, Koksal Toptan, said in his letter to the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, that "it might take decades to heal negative effects" of the bill
if it passed, Toptan's office said in a statement.
The bill would declare the killings of Armenians from 1915 to 1917 a genocide, although it would have no binding effect on U.S. foreign policy. The House
Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to consider the legislation this week.
Toptan's letter said the passing of the bill would be declared by Armenians as a confirmation of their view of the historical dispute.
"Then it will be difficult to control the dynamics triggered by Turkish public reaction," it said.
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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told President George W. Bush on Friday that the measure would "harm the strategic partnership" between the two countries.
Toptan said Armenia did not respond positively to the Turkish proposal to establish a commission of historians to examine archives and to share their
findings with the public.
Armenians say more than 1.5 million of their people were killed in a systematic genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, before the
birth of modern Turkey, in 1923.
Turkey says that the death toll is inflated and that the deaths occurred at a time of civil unrest.
After France voted last year to make the denial of the Armenian genocide a crime, the Turkish government ended military ties. A similar move with the
United States could have repercussions on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which rely heavily on Turkish support.