Incirlik air base in Turkey may be closed

A senior US State Department official warned Congress against passing a resolution supporting Armenian claims of genocide, saying Turkey may close Incirlik air base used by the US military.

Incirlik air base in Turkey may be closed

A senior USState Department official warned Congress against passing a resolutionsupporting Armenian claims of genocide, saying Turkeymay close Incirlik air base used by the US military.

A senior US State Department official warned Congress yesterday againstpassing a resolution supporting Armenian claims of genocide, saying the movecould result in Turkeyclosing the Ýncirlik air base that is used by the US military.

Daniel Fried, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasianaffairs, told a hearing of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe thatTurkish officials have informed the USthat approval of the resolution could lead to a shutdown of the base or arestriction on US overflight privileges granted by Turkey.

He also said the US hasbeen informed that Ankarawould respond with "extreme emotion" if the Armenian resolution wereapproved. He added that such a step would undercut voices in Turkey calling for a "truthful explorationof these events in pursuit of Turkey'sreconciliation with its own past and with Armenia."

 In what appears to be one of the strongest appeals to the Congressfrom the administration against passage of the resolution, Fried also said itruns counter to the views of the 60,000 to 70,000-strong Turkish-Armeniancommunity, which has been warning that the measure would "raise popularemotions so dramatically as to threaten their personal security."

He added the USfear was that "passage of any such resolution would close minds and hardenhearts." Last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and DefenseSecretary Robert Gates sent identical letters to the speaker of the House ofRepresentatives and two other senior House members.

 They contended in the letters that the security of the US was at riskfrom proposed legislation in the House of Representatives that would declare upto 1.5 million Armenians victims of genocide on Turkish soil almost a centuryago. In the letters, dated March 7, Rice and Gates also said the resolutioncould inflict significant damage on US efforts to reconcile the long-standingdispute between Ankara and Yerevan, The Associated Press reported onWednesday.

The appeals went to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi andrepresentatives John Boehner, leader of the House's Republican minority, andTom Lantos, the Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

A Democratic aide said Pelosi, who controls the House agenda, has noimmediate plan to bring the proposal before the House. New resolution beforeSenate In the Senate, however, Republican John Ensign and Democrat RichardDurbin presented a draft resolution that, similar to the one in the House,calls for official recognition of the alleged Armenian genocide.

The draft had been signed by 21 senators when it was presented to the Senateon Wednesday. "The Armenian genocide was the 20th century's firstgenocide, a vicious, organized crime against humanity that included murder,deportation, torture and slave labor.

USclarity on this historical fact is of utmost importance and long pastdue," Durbin was quoted as saying by the Armenian media on Thursday.Democratic 2008 presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama andJoseph Biden, who are known for their support of the Armenian diaspora in the US, didn't signthe draft resolution, though the Democratic Party's 2004 presidential candidateJohn Kerry, along with Edward Kennedy and Joe Lieberman, did.

The US administrationassures Ankarathat it is opposed to the resolution, although it has limited means to convinceCongress not to vote for it.

Turkey categoricallydenies charges that Armenians were subject to genocide during World War I andsays there were deaths on both sides after Armenians took up arms and revoltedagainst the Ottoman Empire.

Egemen Baðýþ of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), who is in Washington with a groupof Turkish deputies to convey Turkish feelings toward possible passage of theresolution in the US Congress, said that two members of the Congress --Democrat Dennis Moore and Republican Phil English -- have already withdrawntheir support from the resolution.

 Baðýþ also said that he was more optimistic than on his last visit tothe UScapital eight weeks ago that the resolution would not be approved by the Houseof Representatives. "Americans are aware of the gravity of the situation.They don't want to lose an ally like Turkey," he said.

Today's Zaman


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16