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Articles

TWO RESOLUTIONS AT ONCE

Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
02 February 2007 - ERAREN
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!ᬠ="justify">A draft resolution regarding Hrant Dink has been presented to the U.S. House of Representatives alongside the resolution regarding the Armenian genocide allegations. The former, whilst condemning the murder of Hrant Dink, further urges the Turkish government to continue investigating and prosecuting those responsible for this act. Also, the resolution requests the abolition of article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code.

It is apparent that this resolution does not have much meaning in the light of how it has been issued in the wake of the condemnation of the Hrant Dink murder by all nations and organizations even remotely interested in the matter, and how Turkish authorities are quickly and efficiently carrying out the investigation of this murder and the prosecution of those responsible. On the other hand, the abolition and amendment of article 301 or keeping it as is, does not fall within the jurisdiction of the US House of Representatives but of the Turkish Parliament.

Bearing these points in mind it can be said that the resolution regarding Hrant Dink over extends the authority of the US House of Representatives and has arrived too late. However on closer inspection it can be surmised that this resolution has been purposefully delayed in hopes of allowing it to be of service to the resolution regarding the alleged Armenian genocide.

However, the resolution regarding the Armenian genocide allegations was also delayed, although it had previously received the approval of the House International Relations Committee and did not require further deliberation. This resolution was presented to the House of Representatives by six of its members, and according to Armenian circles it is expected that a further 150 to 160 representatives will back it. Still, taking into consideration the 190 members of the Armenian Caucus, the resolution has been presented short of the level of backing expected and therefore has most likely been delayed to garner further support. Nevertheless, under normal circumstances, it is foreseeable that the resolution will be adopted since the majority in the House of Representatives now belongs to the Democrats and the Speaker of the House Mrs. Pelosi is sympathetic to the Armenian allegations.

Finally,the resolution includes some ‘not so extreme’ demands which aim to make the adoption process easier. In contrast to acknowledging the Armenian allegations without reservations under the section entitled “Findings” the resolution uses cautious wording in the “Declaration of Policy” section. For example, as seen in the 2001 French bill, the resolution does not blatantly acknowledge that the US House of Representatives recognizes the Armenian “genocide”. This can only be inferred after encountering mere references to the Armenian “genocide” within the text. Also the reference made as to how US foreign policy must reflect an appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide is of a sort that would not offend anyone. Of the demands made by this resolution one garners special attention; the request of the usage of the term “genocide” in the annual speech made by the US President on the 24th of April which has tactfully been omitted in the past. However, this demand is not new; it is known that the US President has been criticized on this issue in the past by Armenian circles.

On the event that this resolution is adopted it will only function as a recommendation. Due to the principal of sovereignty it shall be non-binding in regards to Turkey and likewise not binding on the actions of President Bush. However, due to the fact that the resolution will have documented U.S. action against Turkish interests this will nonetheless have a negative impact upon Turkish-American relations.

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