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US Armenian resolution 'indigestible' to Turkey

The Turkish prime minister's foreign policy advisor has said insulting the Turkish nation with a genocide that their ancestors did not commit would be "indigestible," referring to the Armenian genocide resolution pending in the US Congress.

US Armenian resolution 'indigestible' to Turkey
Speaking to Today's Zaman in Ýstanbul before leaving this weekend for the US with a group of Turkish legislators to lobby in Washington against the resolution, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy Egemen Baðýþ said at a time when Turkey and the US have numerous joint projects going on, including Iraq's reconstruction, the resolution's passage would be unacceptable for the Turkish public, whose support for America's foreign policy has been extremely low.

"Adding these genocide allegations on top of the current bad situation would be like adding insult to injury. It would make things more complicated. This is not a threat. It would put the government in an awkward situation."

Baðýþ recalled that 80 percent of the logistical goods that the US troops use in Iraq go through Turkey and that 60 percent of them are made in Turkey.

"Turkey is the country with the second-highest casualties in Iraq after the US. Although we don't have any troops in Iraq, the Turkish truck drivers, engineers, construction workers and contractors who lost their lives in the efforts to rebuild Iraq, have reached about 150," he said, adding that the Turkish government has to take public opinion into consideration and take measures if such a resolution passed in the US Congress.

"We're hoping that those lawmakers in the United States understand the implications of the resolution, which they think is just a local issue to please their local Armenian constituency and has no binding effect on Turkey. But it's more than that. It can really inflect long-lasting damage to the relationship."

That's why he and a second parliamentary delegation visited to Washington on Sunday, Baðýþ said. He is joined by AK Party deputies Reha Denemeç and Vahit Erdem, and main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies Ersin Arýoðlu and Bihlun Tamaylýgil.

Also the chairman of Turkey-USA Interparliamentary Friendship Caucus, Baðýþ said the delegation will participate in a meeting of the Turkish-American Council today. The delegation will talk with members of Jewish organizations and travel to Chicago, which has very strong Turkish-American and African-American Muslim communities.

The Armenian genocide resolution was introduced on Jan. 30 and currently has about 170 cosponsors.

Turkey rejects the "genocide" label and argues that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife, when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with Russian troops invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire during World War I.

US President George Bush will have to persuade the new Democratic-controlled Congress, which does not need presidential approval for such a resolution.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will decide whether to offer the bill for a full vote if, as expected, it is approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has expressed support.

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