* Administration yields to growing congressional opposition over human rights issues and the concerns of Armenian and Greek Americans.
WASHINGTON–The Armenian National Committee of America Tuesday welcomed published reports that the Clinton Administration–under increasing Congressional opposition–will cut all military loans to Turkey–bringing to an end more than four decades of US taxpayer financing for Turkish purchases of US arms.
"We welcome the Administration’s willingness to bring an end to the shameful practice of using US tax dollars to finance the sale of weapons to known human rights abusers," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA.
"Working with our partners in the Greek American community and our friends in human rights organizations–we will encourage the Administration to take the next step of openly addressing and seeking to reverse Turkey’s pattern of abuse against its own citizens and aggression against neighboring states," he added.
According to Defense News–Agence France Presse–China’s Xinhau news agency–and Deutsche Presse-Agentur–the Clinton Administration will announce the cuts on February 2–when the White House reveals its budget request to Congress for fiscal year 1999.
Defense News–in its January 26 issue–quoted an unnamed Turkish official in Washington speaking about the impact on this decision from a "series of Congressionally imposed obstacles to the provision of military equipment to Turkey."
Over the past decade–military loans to Turkey have come under mounting Congressional criticism–with members of both parties raising objections to: * Turkey’s blockade of US humanitarian aid to Armenia; occupation of Cyprus; * genocidal attacks against the Kurds; repression of Christian minorities; * worsening human rights record–and; ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Since 1993–Congress has either blocked or significantly delayed a number of major sales–including those involving cluster munitions–Seahawk and SuperCobra helicopters–and frigates.
AFP quoted Ankara-based political analyst Dogan Akin as stating that–"Turkish officials may react strongly against the move because they believe Turkey’s strategic location between the Middle East–the Balkans and Transcaucasia deserves continued US aid."
Turkey currently owes more than $5 billion to the United States for past military loans.