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INTERNATIONAL > ‘Armenian genocide’ bill passes U.S. Senate Committee with 12 votes

Tolga Tanış / WASHINGTON

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Bob Menendez (D) is one of the two senators who co-sponsored the latest ‘Armenian genocide’ resolution. Photo: AP/Jacquelyn Martin

Bob Menendez (D) is one of the two senators who co-sponsored the latest ‘Armenian genocide’ resolution. Photo: AP/Jacquelyn Martin

An “Armenian genocide” resolution has passed the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee on April 10 by bipartisan voice.

Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, and Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, had presented the bill last week.

“Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, during which 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turkey ... To honor the survivors and the memory of those lost, and to lead globally on human rights, the United States should finally join the European Union and 11 of our NATO allies in officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide,” Kirk had said.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their forebears were killed in 1915 and 1916 by the forces of Ottoman Empire. 

Turkey disputes the figure, arguing that only 500,000 died, and denies this was genocide, ascribing the toll to fighting and starvation during World War I.

“This resolution reaffirms in the strongest terms that we will always remember this tragedy and honor the memory of innocent Armenian men, women and children who were killed and expelled from their homeland. The Armenian Genocide must be taught, recognized, and commemorated to prevent the re-occurrence of similar atrocities from ever happening again,” Menendez had argued.

Having passed the 18-member committee with 12 ayes and 5 nays, the bill will now come to a 100-member floor vote. The first article of the bill calls "to remember and observe the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2014." 

Although U.S. President Barack Obama is against the passage of such a bill, an expert on Turkey told daily Hürriyet that the recent turbulence in Washington-Ankara bilateral relations might affect the administration's expected efforts to stop the bill. 

Moroever, some new faces in the administration, like U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Samantha Power and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, can tip the balance with their track record of supporting pro-Armenian bills.

Last week, four U.S. Congressmen also introduced a resolution calling on President Obama to encourage a Turkish-Armenian relationship based on Turkey’s acknowledgement that the 1915-16 killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces constituted genocide.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held a phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry late April 9 discussing the recent Armenian draft resolutions. “We don’t have a negative expectation [for the outcome of the draft resolutions],” Davutoğlu told reporters in Ankara on April 10.

April/10/2014

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