April 6th, 2009
02:21 PM ET

Obama's Turkish dilemma

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/06/obama.turkey/art.obama.turkey.cnn.jpg caption="President Obama and Turkish President Abdullah Gul hold a joint news conference Monday."]

F. Stephen Larrabee, RAND

President Obama's visit to Ankara this week highlights Turkey's growing strategic importance to the United States - and a high stakes dilemma for the President and for U.S. strategic interests.

Turkey today plays an increasingly important role in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East, and its cooperation is critical to achieving U.S. objectives in all three areas. Turkey also enjoys strong ties to Iran and Syria, which could be helpful as Washington seeks to establish a dialogue with both countries.

Turkish cooperation could be important in facilitating the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and promoting stability once they leave. Turkey is even emerging as an important transit route for the transport of Caspian oil and gas.

However, the administration's efforts to repair relations with Turkey could be derailed by a Congressional resolution introduced last month condemning Turkey for the mass deportation and death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915.

The fate of the Armenians killed in 1915 is a major tragedy and an important moral and political issue. However, the Armenian Genocide Resolution is not the way to address it. Passage of the resolution would precipitate a crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations, and damage broader U.S. interests in the region.

The genocide resolution is a highly emotional issue in Turkish domestic politics and has been a source of deep discord in U.S.-Turkish relations. In the fall of 2007, the Bush administration narrowly averted a serious crisis with Ankara only by a last minute all-out lobbying campaign that prevented the resolution (HR-106) from coming to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But the genocide resolution is far from dead. The Armenian lobby was encouraged by its near success in 2007. And the proposal has strong support among Democrats, who traditionally are more concerned about human rights issues than are Republicans. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is from California, which has a large - and very vocal - Armenian community.

Senator Hillary Clinton and President Obama both supported the resolution during the presidential campaign. In office, they could change their minds, as a number of their predecessors have done. They might have trouble, however, persuading some of their colleagues.

If the resolution is passed, the Turkish government could come under strong domestic pressure to take retaliatory actions. Anti-American sentiment there is already high. US-Turkish relations seriously deteriorated during the Bush administration as a result of the US invasion of Iraq and the unwillingness of the Bush administration to assist Turkey in combating cross-border attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a terrorist group located in the Kandil mountains in northern Iraq. Clearly President Obama is working to rebuild relations with his visit there.

If the genocide resolution is passed, however, Turkish leaders might be pressured to retaliate by, for example, denying the United States use of Incirlik air base in southern Turkey. Incirlik plays a critical role in the transport of people and materials to Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, with the recent loss of U.S. access to the base at Manas in Kyrgyzstan, Incirlik could become a crucial hub for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. Loss of access to Incirlik could also complicate the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

The Armenian conflict remains sensitive because it was key to Turkey's emergence as a nation. Recalling the conflict conjures fears of separatist conflict, and fuels Turkish nationalism. However, Turkey has shown a greater willingness to address the issue more openly in recent years. At the end of 2008, more than 26,000 Turks signed a letter apologizing for the deaths of the Armenians who died at the hands of the Ottoman authorities in 1915.

Passage of the genocide resolution could seriously set back the process of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation currently underway between Ankara and Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. This process has gained important momentum since President Abdullah Gul's historic visit to Armenia - the first visit to Armenia ever by a Turkish president - in September 2008. Recent statements by Turkish and Armenian officials suggest that the two countries are close to normalizing relations.

A normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations would have important implications for stability in the Caucasus and enable Armenia to reduce its political and military dependence on Russia – an important U.S. policy objective. It would also remove a major obstacle to Armenia's ability to join regional energy schemes, from which Armenia has been so far excluded. This process risks being derailed, however, if the genocide resolution is passed.

The Obama administration thus needs to pursue a two track policy. First, it should seek to bolster strategic ties to Turkey and continue to actively support the Erdogan government's struggle to combat terrorist attacks by the Kurdistan Workers Party. This is regarded by Ankara as the litmus test of the U.S.-Turkish security relationship. Second, the administration needs to work with the Congressional leadership, especially Pelosi, to head off passage of the genocide resolution.

Instead of passing the Genocide resolution Congress should encourage the process of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, particularly the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border (closed since 1993), which would have an important economic impact on Armenia and decrease Armenia's economic isolation.

In return for heading off the resolution, Turkey should pursue reconciliation with Yerevan and continue the effort to promote greater internal openness in addressing the Armenian issue that has been evident in recent years.

This would represent a win-win situation for all sides and avoid a crisis that could do untold damage to U.S.-Turkish relations and broader U.S. interests in the Middle East and Caucasus.

Editors Note: F. Stephen Larrabee holds the Corporate Chair in European Security at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis.

soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Sean Hanley

    Why do we only do the right thing when it is self serving? A million and a half men, women and children were brutally murdered and we don't even have the courage to say so, out of fear what our NATO "friend" might do to us? If friends can't even express the truth to friends about genocide, without fearing retribution, what kind of relationship, do we have?

    A catholic theologian denies the full extent of the holocaust and the world demands his head, but an entire nation denies that it murdered almost it's entire christian population and we say "well... it's not a good time right time." When is it ever a good time to call mass murder genocide, without offending someone?

    April 7, 2009 at 5:51 am |
  2. Orhan

    I can tell you that so-called Armenian Genocide never took place in Anatolia,Turkey. Ottoman Achieve is open to all international historians for their opinion. Let the historins do their job and decide. What does House of Representatives have to do with this?

    Turks and Armenians peacefully lived in Anatolia until Armenians tried to take advantage of WW1 and invade Turkey and kill thousands of innocent civillians. In fact, they killed many including women and children. As a result, during the war, some Armenians lost their lives and some were displaced and sent to US or other countries. There are thousands of Armenians currently living in Turkey and they are quite rich and happy. Majority of them know that so-called genocide never happened in history.

    During the rule of Ottoman Empire, no nation was suffered for any reason in the region. You can visit Istanbul and other cities in Turkey to see people from all religions can freely practice their religious services, including Armenians.

    As Turks, on this soil, we have enjoyed religious and cultural diversity for hundreds of years. Mr. President is our guest today as a good ally. I hope the US economy will recover soon.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:49 am |
  3. Ben White

    The Armenian problem was created by the states that wanted to attain their own goals by separating the Ottoman Empire. Today, the Armenian problem is a baseless, artificial and designed problem, which is still kept on the agenda by the same states which have different names now, so as to realise their evil intentions on Turkey.

    The persons who claimed it is a Holocoust firstly answer these question please?
    1)The Turkish side said that "OK we offer to open our Ottoman archives
    and Russian archieves but armenians say we don't"
    2) More than 250,000 armenian live in Turkey.They are working there, earn money and send it to Armenia
    3)The Genocide/Holocoust is an issue to reunion armenians from all around the world. If this issue is finished, The Armenian cannot find any common issue anyway. so they always want to keep alive this issue.
    4) The Armenians want Turkey to give its Mount Ararat and some great territories to the Armenia.

    İf the only reason is to accept the massacle, Turkey can accept and apologise, but after that Armenians want too much things...

    April 7, 2009 at 5:43 am |
  4. McFritzer

    This is a process Turkey must go through to come to terms with parts of it's past. This dialogue reveals facts that had to be resolved a long time ago but for the turks it is like opening pandoras box. Since it is not only the Armenians they have problems with. What about the Kurdish extermination which was another genocide committed in the 30's. This is a part of history that should be addressed as well. Their poor human rights record is a clear obstacle in the eye of their social and political development and the credibility of democracies in general. However, this is a matter of the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice not the US congress. Obama has to be careful not to overextend the arrow of playing the savior of the world. Although he seems to be doing a good job of bringing leaders together we have to carefully follow the implications of his actions. He acts after all as the main perpetrator of US interests. The effects and impact of his policies remains to be seen.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:31 am |
  5. Sonata

    Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group as it is mentioned in 1948 UN Convention. During World War 1, the Russians militarized the ethnic Armenians in Eastern Ottoman soil to attack the Ottoman Army and civilians. As a result the Ottomans (Turks) attacked back to the Armenians who were Ottoman citizens as well. There was no plan or whatsoever during the 600 years of the Ottoman Empire where the ethnic Armenians have lived a life in prosperity and with religion freedom. This issue should be left between the 2 countries to deal with, with the help of historians opening the archives, not politicians from other parts of the world. I am sure Mr. Obama will make a very sound decision regarding this issue.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:59 am |
  6. jake

    Amerca has several interests in this region. Why should Congress care about something have occured between Armenians and Turkish 100 years ago

    April 7, 2009 at 4:52 am |
  7. Travis Eliades

    If the historians cannot agree that a "genocide" took place, it's tragic that politicians and statesmen for the sake of political currency are willing to risk such significant and irreversible repercussions to the US – Turkey relations.

    It's notable that the Turkish president, as I understand it, has on a number of occasions reiterated that Turkey would agree to a joint- committee of historians comprised of Turks, Armenians, French and Americans, and make available all of the Ottoman archives, and that they would accept the findings of the committee as the truth. Why is this proposal not being considered by our politicians who seem so willing and keen to illuminate the truths of the past century at such great peril? I guess there isn't much potential for future political electorage if the task is left for the true historians.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:50 am |

    Kurdish peopil Conceder pkk our savoir from Turkish aggression and occupation .
    Mr Obama should conceder basick Wright of Kurdish people before caling pkk a terrorist.
    22 million Kurdish people support pkk in north Kurdistan are they terrorist?

    April 7, 2009 at 4:37 am |
  9. Eytan LEVI

    Turkey is the strongest nation in the area, culturally as well as,
    being in the "correct mindset " to benefit the rest of the world in chaos today. İt is for good reason that Ottoman's have ruled for a long time in history, as the people who live in this country.

    Turkey is scoring victory after victory in economy, politics and there is alot the world must learn from Turkey. The biggest problem Turkey is facing today is the image drawn of being a large army while politically correct, tourism in a beautiful country like here with the longest coastline in the area is not well enough advertised and while Greece gets 40 mil tourist we get 10 !

    Image is everything...so please Armenien Genocide will not be good for the image, the big army, is also not giving us a great image. We must get back to the beuties of the countries willing to share all its beauties with the rest of the world...İt is the best place to be in the summertime...And a stronger Turkey will bring only fairness and peace to the world !


    April 7, 2009 at 4:31 am |
  10. klaus mandrup

    President Obama is on his way to be eaten up by "real politics" and that does not look nice. Turkey is not a country any body should build any kind of future for the better on. Mr. Erdogan is only using the democratic formulae to act like a dictator. For him it is power and power for Turkey what matters and he will give a damn on Armenia or the Kurdistan.
    How can Obama backing up on a autonomian Tibet not asking his freinds in Turkey to establish an autonomian Kurdistan which could be the beginning to a united Kurdistan with parts from Iraq and Iran. With out that in mind for a future politic no future in that corner in the middle east.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:19 am |
  11. John

    It is interesting how some looks at things in one way. It would have been a genocide if it was only one-sided but Turks have been massacred by Armenians too during WWI. If Turks are gonna say they are sorry, then they also need an apology. These were the consequences of the war. Armenians depend on things happened 100 years ago rather than to move on and work on their country to get into a higher level both economically and politically. That's what everyone else is doing, they should do the same.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:19 am |
  12. Philip

    The United States has always held itself up as a champion of human rights and one of President Obama's main campaign points was to reestablish the U.S. as such. One way in which the current administration can return the U.S. to the moral fore is by recognising the mass murder of more than a million Armenians from 1915 to 1917.

    Each time a new U.S. government comes into power, the Armenian Genocide issue is raised, and each time the new government will backtrack in the face of Turkish pressure. The main reason for this, indeed the main argument given by Anderson Cooper, is that Turkey is too great of an ally to upset. By formally recognising the genocide, he writes, this "would precipitate a crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations." Notice the use of the word "crisis." What exactly would this "crisis" ential Mr. Cooper?

    The Obama Administration should adopt this resolution and send a signal to the world that the U.S. is indeed champion of human rights. The overwhelming historical evidence of the Armenian Genocide should never be allowed to be trumped by a potential "crisis" in U.S.-Turkish relations.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:10 am |
  13. mete

    This is the subject of the historians.Not politicians or lobby members!

    April 7, 2009 at 4:06 am |
  14. yonca

    also i'd like to say to people that insists on genocide, we have state records about this event. What does your hypothese depend on? To Armenian people who says their relatives were killed?? Why cant it be a lie said for politic reasons? we have Ottoman records about armenian forced emigration informing who decided that, how many people took place in this organisation, the emigration route, the number of troops who accomplied armenians during this route, the approx number of armenians forced to emigration, the population of armenians before and after the emigration.. we have all these information in our archives and we are ready to share. Are you??

    an additional information: Meanwhile Armenian and Turkish historians are investigating and compares the archive informations and will come to a conclusion on the comming days.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:05 am |
  15. Hasmik

    Now, I know why most people hate AMERICANS, the feeling was never this burning inside me until I read the caomments.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:56 am |
  16. Eddy

    This resolution is the only thing in the hand of Armenian Diaspora, to show the world their importance and lobby in US.
    2 Countries got together starting from September 2008, working on how to open the borders without damaging any relations with other regional countries. Both sides more or less agreed on leaving this issue to the Historians, and put their efforts on real day issues.
    Armenian Diaspora seems not a part of this, and instead of helping this work group, always trying to sabotage.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:45 am |
  17. Steve Lycett

    The US did not right-off the Jewish Holocaust in the name of any diplomatic relations. It didnt just slap the hands of the Japanese ending WWII! It did not forget the gassing of thousands of Kurds in Northern Iraq, so why then should the US forget the massacre of thousands of Armenians? Truth and justice about the Armenian Genocide is long overdue.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:42 am |
  18. Semra

    First of all there was no Armenian genocide taken place almost 100 years ago. it was a big lie. the event was a mass migration of Armenians. during this migration, thousands of them had died tragically. nobody denies that. but it was not because they were murdered purposely to clean the entire Armenian nation! it was because at that time WWI was going on and Ottomans were in the war. Country's conditions was very very poor. people were hungry, poor and sick. it is not very difficult to understand those deaths at this kind of environment.

    secondly, this migration was done because Armenian citizens of Ottoman Empire started an upraising against their own nation. they started to kill Turkish citizens, burn their towns, rape their girls. in order to stop this, Ottoman government decided to migrate them. again this was not a genocide! it was a mass migration ended with thousands of deaths.

    US government must leave the issue to the Turkish and Armenian historians. they must resolve the issue by themselves. it is not the US government business to resolve this. besides, passing this bill will definitely will ruin the relations with Turkey, which is much more important than that stupid bill.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:41 am |
  19. yonca

    We as turkish people are sure that there has NOT been a genocide. There was a riot during 1st world war caused by armenian ottomans which worked with the Allies especially Russia, thus; ottoman administration forced emigration on Armenians. During this emigration, ottoman army were guarding them all the way long. We know aprox. how much Armenian died during this emigration we also know how much of them died because of health problems and how much were killed by Ottoman citizen attacks. These attacks are considered very normal under war conditions as the people who lived under ottoman government protection for hundreds of years were rebelling at that time. Armenians, Jewishes, Greeks or other minorities had more than minority rights in Ottoman Empire. Ottomans never threated them as minorities. We were a big empire with lots of nations living in a harmony. We did not have any colonies. In all the lands we seized, we left culture. We did not burn the cities as Napollion or did not break down the sculptures. We built mosques next to the churches. We lived together for 6 hundred years. We did not killed any nation on purpose. We have legal numbers and reports of armenian forced emigration but no one would like to know about it because playing the armenian genocide card and pleasing your armenian citizens by this forcement is so much simplier.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:38 am |

    the facts speak for themselves(armenians, greeks,etc.); so if turkey wants to continue denying... they are kidding themselves. knock knock....who's there....
    the european union! wake up, smell the coffee.
    if this was about other genocide victims i.e. the jewish people the u.s. position would be very onesided.
    A mature democracy will admit to its mistakes and learn from them(are they a democracy?). in other words be humbled and move on....

    April 7, 2009 at 3:29 am |
  21. nino

    It would make a big difference if people would first search the history and then give their decisions. all historians are allowed to search the state archives but instead of talking about the facts people comment regarding diaspora pressure. Why do not the scientists talk about the issue but the politicians do?
    Armenians and Turkish were living togather for centuries but in WW1 the Armenians preffered to take advantage of the situation by attacking their own country in an orginised way. So they stood in the enemy side to Ottoman and they died during war as they killed many others.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:27 am |
  22. Steven Brosk

    Turkey is a bully for sure! It is disgusting that Obama caved in to Turkish demands vis-a-vis the new NATO Sec Gen. The Turks want Rasmussan to apologize about cartoons published in a Danish newspaper (free press!) and yet they will not recognize the genocide of the Armenians. Turkey in the EU? What rubbish! It will be a case of the tail wagging the dog. As for them being a great ally: we needed them at the invasion of Iraq and they showed what great allies they actually are and have suffered the consequences ever since. Turkey has no real interest in cooperating with the EU or NATO all in the guise of extreme Turkish nationalism and religion!

    April 7, 2009 at 3:27 am |
  23. edip

    us and turkey had strong ties/relation until the bush admin
    took over the power 9 years ago.but during this period
    all was ruined.now we are able to solve how cleopetra died.
    if ermenians claim that genocide happenned,
    why dont we let historians investigate and try to find out what happened 100 years ago.but they,ermenians,prefer it to be voted
    in the congress.we can not change the past but we can change the
    future.this dispute can only be solved by two countries (turkey,ermenia)
    i fed up that us bringing up the this claim every year.
    lets have normal relations as we did before.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:26 am |
  24. jack

    get over it.why nobody speaks about genocide recentley happened in gaza,and Bosnia during 1915-1917 war Ottoman Turks and armenians got killed. just like what is going on in iraq right now.how many iraqis have been killed? armenians who live in the U.S needs lobby about more useful things for americans,if they are so concern about it they can go back to armenia,and deal with it there. Dont pull U.S of America in to your nonsense problems.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:17 am |
  25. Athanas

    There is a very big problem with this issue. I've read the analysis a hundred times: recognizing the Armenian genocide is "basically morally correct, but so impractical that becomes naive".

    Such an argument is bankrupt, and speaks extremely lowly of its presenter. Would you consider negociating the existence or not of the Holocaust in order to improve relations with Iran?

    The US (like everybody else but the Turks actually) has learned that the way to move forward from such tragedies IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THEM. The US itself has worked very hard to understand and "correct" - as far as possible - slavery and the genocide(s) of native Americans (although you don't quite call them that, you do acknowledge them in one way or the other). This shows that the argument is disingenous. The US knows in every level that pretending a tragedy didn't happen is WRONG ALL AROUND. But in order to score easy points in a particular game, some people wouldn't care about right and wrong.

    Guess what: wrong, immoral, expedient decisions have a tendency to backfire...

    April 7, 2009 at 3:17 am |
  26. Richard Wesley

    It appears that, without any help from the outside, the Turks and the Armenians are themselves on the verge of solving their century-old conflict. They are the ones who are changing their own histories. It appears to me they should be the ones who decide what is "genocide" and what is not. The United States should try to facilitate a peaceful resolution, but not with Congressional resolutions that can only enflame or exacerbate the situation.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:08 am |
  27. AOT

    Turkey is on the land, once tens of nations lived happily with the Ottoman Empire ruling. When it collapsed forced to WWI penniless, hungry, naked, no arms, powerless at all “THE BEST OF” came up. Russian and British agitated nations started backstabbing their neighbors and their own country not only Armenians but all. I am not defending the forced move which resulted causalities but all should understand the historical facts. Ottoman Empire could not defend Armenians from rebels, looters, angry Turks because had no power that time. We are sorry for all war victims we all suffered not only Armenians. It is a pity that Turkish governments didn’t do anything for the subject just tried to hide the facts that was really stupid. Besides all of you guys, tell me one nation just one of you which is not sorry that what happened in their history. Massacred native Americans, Jewish, what Russians did to many of the people, remember French government in Algeria. People Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:59 am |
  28. Alper

    I dont know why CNN keep displays Turkey's map just besides the Middle East instead of Europe.Is this a previlage of CNN?Also during the reports CNN shows women wear scarf only 20 percent of women in Turkey wear scarf.

    Obama is more open minded and clever than G. Bush.He is not one sided.Therefore he has many different views to the problems.You cant solve problems by force in the middle east.If you aproach with that you get reflection with same way.

    Please come and see how Turkey is developed.It may utilize its Islamic modernization to solve problems.Turkey is not an Arabic country and has goodwill for all problems.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:57 am |
  29. Korhan Ercin

    I read many of the comments, I am terribbly sorry for the comments without knowing history of this region... please do not make comment unless reading a lot about a history of the region, people of Turkey... many of my friends wrote that "genocide" has happened... if you say so please refer to a document, any clue anything which will prove it or please do not talk/ write about this issue...

    April 7, 2009 at 2:48 am |
  30. Mohammed Qutubuddin Khaja

    (Assalamalykum) Peace be upon you! The religion of Truth is the need of the hour, where every nation on this planet is redy to kill its neighbour. In Islam it is belived that Prophet Jesus (Isa), son of Mary would be sent back to earth by Almighty (Allah) God and he would save humanity. The imperial Europe had fought two world wars, to justify their colonial uphold, Japan was destroyed by USA and Post WW2, Soviet block emerged and cold war began and then it later colapsed, then Islamic Fundamentalism became enemy of Capitalism, USA helped Moslems in Youguslavia but destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan. The divide and rule policy still exist among the Western power.
    If Turkey under Ottoman ruled killed many Armanians, so did USA to Japan, so did India to Kashmiries, so did USSR to Afghans etc,
    Lets forget the past and make this world a peaeful place to live

    April 7, 2009 at 2:35 am |
  31. Jamal

    It is all about the future and thinking positive. We can easily sink in the history, but those who are successful always learn from it and focus on the future.

    The real question, are we?

    I am extremely happy to see these developments and look forward to the future. BUT, what are we doing to stop the current miseries and in-progress genocide?

    April 7, 2009 at 2:30 am |
  32. Duane Williams

    Ara The actions of one man in no way indicates the direction of a nation unless he is the leader of that nation. The man who committed that mureder was NOT the Turkish leader.

    Second, the Armenians, working in concert with the Russians in an attempt to take and divide Turkish land, were involved in atrocities against thousands of Turks during that time period. Shedding light on one crime, genocide, and not on the other, genocide and mass war time treason chiefly among them, is hipocrocy. If you want to talk about the situation, do so fully not selectively.

    Last and most important, Armenia and Turkey are currently involved in one on one talks to solve a whole host of issues and that is one of them. It would be wise of Prez Obama and the U.S. Congress to not weigh in at this point and let them come thier own terms without outside interence.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:27 am |
  33. Jennifer

    My grandmother is still alive, shes in her 90s and shes a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. My family has lived in America for almost 100 years, my relatives are proud Americans who fought in World War 2 and Vietnam. My grandmother watched her parents hung by Turks and Armenian women raped and babies killed by Turks. What was their crime? Being a Christian.

    Are you going to tell her to get past it or me? Shoudn't Turkey get past it and apologize for the killing of 1.5 Million Christian Armenians? Why do they teach in schools its never happened? You call that a great ally to America and a "model" to the Muslim world?

    April 7, 2009 at 2:18 am |
  34. James

    It is great to see that Barack Obama is reaching out to Turkey and trying to enmesh that country to the West. That must be commended.
    However, Turkey itself needs to build bridges and act according to the values of the world it wants to tie itself to.
    In this regard it must acknowledge its guilt not just during World War 1, as well as the Cyprus issue, but the centuries of bitterness and horror that Ottoman rule produced.
    It must acknowledge its guilt for the massacres of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians during World War 1, the same way Germany has done with regard to the Holocaust against European Jews and gypssies.
    It must also acknowledge and apologise to its former Orthodox Christian territories, now sovereign countries and some of them members of the EU, for the shameful policy of taking children and raising them as Turkish muslims (the janissary levy). In this regard it must take lesson from Australia's recent apology to its indigenous people for its own analogous acts.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:05 am |
  35. Sam Fecto

    James Hurt, summed it up the best ..... and I think we all need to constantly remind each other that President Obama has inherited these mess and looking at what he has done so far we Americans should be proud of the choice we made last november.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:02 am |
  36. Thoksy

    Turkish President – Abdullah Gul clearly suggested to all who want to be part of this process and he argued that Turkey is ready to open archive documents in that era and let's see together what was happenned. He is very clear and confident. This is not the desicion who should politician or buracrats make, if we going to make a desicion and this must be done by scientist and historian based on documents and archives.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:53 am |
  37. Emil

    This article fails to explain WHY Turkish-Armenian border is closed since 1993.

    Answer: Because Armenia has OCCUPIED 20% (!!!) of the territory of neighboring Azerbaijan!

    Currently, Armenia is in violation of four UN Security Council's resolutions, which call for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijan!

    This is also the reason why Armenia is isolated from all regional energy and other projects, such us BTC oil pipeline, NABUCCO, railways expansion project etc.

    If you want to make money with someone, don't you agree you would free their land first??? Azerbaijan was tolerating this atrocity for 16 years now. One day when we snap, please don't call it a genocide... Let's agree now, that it will be a war for liberation and freedom, just like WW2, but on a smaller scale, ok?

    April 7, 2009 at 1:35 am |
  38. Wintergreen

    For all of us who do admire our President's demeanor, this is a good time for each of us to extend a hand to another human being who might feel uncomfortable because they are perceived of as 'other'.

    April 7, 2009 at 12:54 am |
  39. Peter Georgiou

    Imagine Germany denying its hideous genocidal past. Imagine if Soviet troops still occupied half of the Czech Republic. No free pass for Turkey. Shame on their intrasigence. Shame on Obama for sacrificing principles in return for some bitter Turkish coffee.

    April 7, 2009 at 12:08 am |
  40. Cengiz

    As a proud American, I can say I am very pleased to see the relationship between USA and my native country Turkey is again led to a very promising route by the President.

    Not to my surprize, this new era between 2 countries is not so much welcomed by everybody, Armenians in particular. I believe the sincerity of some of those -not all- who claim that a genocide happened. Yet, I should say that I also read many sources claiming the history revealed in a very different even exact opposite way: Armenians killed and tortured thousands of their turkish fellow citizens during World War I. I also listened to my grandparents and their story how they escaped from Armenian rampage.

    I believe that all sides have their own story and pertaining claims. So why is this problem not left to objective discussion and then the decision of historians as proposed by the Turkish goverment.

    Finally, I beleive Armenians could benefit more if they try not to constitute their lives and all country consciousness on this hatred of Turks.

    April 7, 2009 at 12:01 am |
  41. amerikro

    If i was an armenian i would be very offended about these politicians using this tragedy for their own political gain every election.shouldn't we question their sincerity?Well maybe turks should follow the american politicians footsteps and give armenians some wasteland in the middle of nowhere give them rights to open and run casinos and not to forget lot of firewater to try and keep em drunk and uneducated so they don't ask for more.(Sounds familiar)now let us think do we realy have a right to judge anybody.does'nt it make more sense to stop the genocide that is still happenin in darfur.are we gonna let the next generation worry about it?Let the historians figure out the past try and save the lives you actually can rather than talking about it in the future.

    April 7, 2009 at 12:00 am |
  42. Kaan

    I am Turkish-American. The passing of such a resolution as stated in this article will not benefit anyone at this point. It us purely symbolic.

    I think there were deaths in 1915 but no planned genocide. There were no resources for such a systematic event and the empire was near collapse busy with invaders from every angle.

    April 6, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  43. lanceintexas

    I find a lot of agreement with those who suggest that constantly focusing on 100 year old atrocities dims the prospect of building a better future. The same point can be made about African American race relations here in the US. The dogs in Selma were 45 years ago and the slave plantations ended over 100 years ago, And yet many African Americans cling to the victimhood the past provides them rather than creating their own future prosperity. If the Armenians are smart, they will never forget the past but they will also not let it steal their future.

    April 6, 2009 at 11:50 pm |
  44. powder

    The Turks were taking it from all sides in WWI. The Armenians threw in with the Russians against the Turks. If there was an ethnic cleansing going on why would the Turks have relocated the Armenians. It was war- people get killed. 400,000 allied forces and Turks died at just one battle alone-Galipoli. The Turkish flag is blood red because the blood flowed as high as a horses bridle.

    April 6, 2009 at 11:38 pm |
  45. Diana Adriano

    It is really disturbing to see how easily people can dismiss Armenian Genocide as casualty of war, and just because Turkey is an ally of US, that country should not be made accountable for what they did. Armenians are not asking for more then an apology from Turkey and an acknowledgment of what had happened and for Turkey to stop teaching the complete opposite in schools.
    Everyone agrees that denying the Holocaust and the deaths during WWII, would be unbearable, then why is it OK to deny Armenian tragedy? Is it because it happened 100 years ago? Is it because it happened to a small country that doesn't carry any Political influence?
    It has been noted that Hitler during WWII said that "No one cared about what Turks were doing to Armenians, then why would they care about what we're doing to Jews?"
    So, I hope that everyone stops to think about all the genocides that happen since then. It is not only about Armenian genocide.. We haven't made anyone accountable for Darfur, Rwanda and Kosovo. It is purely a human problem, and in order for us to stop these crimes in the future, we need to acknowledge our past.

    April 6, 2009 at 11:31 pm |
  46. Mike

    Turkey has always been an important ally. The Bush administration knew that (H and W). Know suddenly the libs act like they have discovered the importance of Turkey when just two years ago they were actively trying to thwart the strategic relationship that would have lft our troops without supply lines by using the nearly one hundred year old Armenian tragedy for political gain. How pathetic the transparency of the Democrats in Congress at that time trying to undermine this important strategic relationship with their non-binding resolution of condemnation against a Government that no longer exists. What an embarrassment that they, including Obama, were willing to throw our troops under the bus to sabotage the surge. Now Obama has the weight on his shoulders borne by Bush and his tune has changed. Please don't pretend the American People don't remember the despicable actions of Nancy Pelosi and Obama and feign enlightenment regarding Turkey.

    April 6, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  47. James

    I don't think there is a strong evidence that supports systematic destruction (genocide) of the Armenian population. Turkey already opened all of its archives to discuss the matter. Armenians are not willing to discuss the issue with the support of their scholars. Armenians making use of this issue for getting attention from the world and also for the benefit of their economy and politics.

    April 6, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  48. John Farah

    It is sad to see the double standard within US politics. While the US condemns the holocaust, there seems to be a deadly silence when it comes to the rights of the Armenians who faced the first genocide of the 20th century.

    If the world can stand silent at the Armenian genocide, it should also do so with regards to the holocaust, cambodia, ex-yugoslavia, rwanda. An Armenian life is of no less value than any life lost during any senseless mass killing.

    April 6, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  49. mitsuko

    Ottoman Empire protected their country against Armenian attacks. The country was not even Turkey yet. Armenian wants to extort money from Turkey by crying out genicide.

    April 6, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  50. Hratch

    Daniel Woods of Pittsburgh says "this crap", when referring to the resolution...ignorance such as this is what fails us....1.5 million people are subjected to the first genocide of the 20th century, and Daniel refers to it as crap...this is what is wrong with our society today...will anyone dare refer to the Jewish Holocaust as crap?
    Turkey MUST recognize the Armenian genocide, and the US has a huge role to play in it...just like it plays a huge role in every issue around the world...President Obama, now its time you kept your campaign promise...

    April 6, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
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