06 March 2010

Armenia-Turkey: US Congressional panel adopts Genocide resolution

Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian
In what turned out to be a nail-biting vote, the US congressional House Foreign Affairs Committee today voted on a non-binding resolution recognizing the massacre and deportation of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire as Genocide. Although accepted as such by many other countries, as well as by most historians, previous attempts to translate resolutions into actual bills have faltered after officials in Washington warn of the consequences of alienating Turkey, a key ally in the region.

Last year, citing momentum in attempts to get Armenia and Turkey to resolve their own painful past, US President Barack Obama avoided terming the massacres as Genocide despite pre-election pledges to do so. Since then, however, many analysts consider that Turkey has not fulfilled its promise to ratify two protocols signed in October which would establish diplomatic relations between the two estranged neighbors and establish a historical commission to resolve the issue once and for all.

Eventually, the resolution was passed by 23 votes to 22 and both Armenians and Turks live-tweeted the process, although both were unhappy with persistent delays, despite interpreting them in different ways. Many were also confused by the lack of an immediate vote tally.

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