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Articles

THE DRAFT BILLS BROUGHT BEFORE THE US CONGRESS

Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
24 September 2007 - ERAREN
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!ßõ  ellspacing="0" ceÿ .THE DRAFT BILLS BROUGHT BEFORE THE US CONGRESS¨

The Congress is back in session after summer recess. It remains unknown whether or not the draft bills foreseeing the recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide introduced into both houses of Congress will take their place on the current affairs agenda. Certain Armenian sources state that the draft bills will be dealt with towards the end of this year.

#will be dealt with towards the end of this year.

Those supporting the draft bill at the House of Representatives have reached 226. Since 218 amounts for an absolute majority at the lower house, if the bill is brought to the floor many believe its adoption will be inevitable. By way of two separate endeavors, efforts have been exerted to preclude such a development from materializing.

In the first instance, Turkey has been persuading members of Congress and the American government (particularly White House circles) that the adoption of the bills in question would have an adverse effect upon Turkish-American relations. Apart from diplomatic channels, Prime Minister Erdogan and previous Foreign Minister Gul, alongside  various establishments which have certain competences in the economic sector have also supported and directed efforts towards this end. To the best of our knowledge, there are no establishments nor distinguished personalities in Turkey who do not oppose these bills. Generally speaking this also follows suit for those liberal intellectuals who generally support Armenian views.

In the second instance, Jewish organizations in the U.S. have taken a stance against the bill in question. As a matter of fact, some of the most prominent of these organizations sent a letter to Congress stating that they do not support this bill. However, in an unforeseen turn of events, this letter could not preclude the bill from attaining an absolute majority and subsequently the support of 226 members. In other words, the endeavors undertaken by the Jewish community were not of much use. In the meantime as a result of a campaign launched by certain members of the Anti-Defamation League who joined hands with the Armenians, the chairman of the League Foxman stated that the events of 1915 were “tantamount to genocide”. That Foxman did not substantiate his words uttered to the end that the Jews in Turkey would be negatively affected if the bills were to be passed set off wrong impressions about Turkey and gave those supporting the bill a new trump card.

To counter these bills Turkey was unable to resort to scholarly studies proving that the events of 1915 do not amount to genocide. The main reason accounting for this situation is that the American general public believes in these genocide allegations as a result of the continual endeavors on the part of Armenians. Studies have been conducted and continue to be conducted in Turkey discrediting these allegations. Nonetheless they have not been published nor debated in foreign countries.

In conclusion, it appears that precluding the adoption of these bills is dependent upon the members of the U.S. Congress in particular acknowledging that such a development would deal a decisive blow to Turkish-American relations.

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ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

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