American Turkish Council Chairman Sharply Criticizes ?Careless use of Genocide Language’ in HRes316 and HConRes195
WASHINGTON–DC–Only days before Armenian Genocide legislation is set to come before a key US House panel–American Turkish Council (ATC) Chairman Brent Scowcroft has warned Speaker Dennis Hastert that even the discussion of the Armenian Genocide on the floor of the US House would be "counter-productive" to the interests of the United States–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In his September 12 letter–Scowcroft–speaking on behalf of the corporate members of the ATC–accused Congressional supporters of Armenian genocide legislation (HRes316 and HConRes195) of trying to "pull Turkey away from the West. He stressed that "the careless use of genocide language provides an excuse to do so–delivering a direct blow to American interests in the region."
"We are outraged that Brent Scowcroft appears to have so compromised his own integrity in pursuit of personal business interests that he finds himself enlisted by the Turkish government in its desperate and patently immoral genocide denial effort," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We are particularly troubled by his baseless comment regarding the ‘careless use of genocide language’–a hateful insult to the victims of this crime–a direct offense to the Congressional authors of this legislation–and a repudiation of the US archives–the unanimous judgment of the International Association of Genocide Scholars–and the overwhelming evidence documenting this crime against humanity."
The ATC has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as the result of a 10-page story in Vanity Fair detailing FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmond’s reports that its officials were involved in illegal efforts to defeat Armenian genocide legislation in the fall of 2000. According to the article by contributing editor David Rose–Edmonds claimed FBI wiretaps–including those of the Turkish Embassy and Turkish groups such as the ATC and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA)–reveal that the Turkish government and its allies boasted of bribing members of Congress as part of an alleged deal to stop consideration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.
In a related effort–the Assembly of Turkish American Associations has distributed an action alert against both Armenian genocide resolutions. Among the factually unfounded and morally bankrupt points raised by the ATAA in the space of its one-page alert are the following:
-The ATAA warns its members: "Inaction on the part of the Turkish American Community will compromise U.S.-Turkish relations–encourage more acts of harassment–violence and terrorism against people of Turkish and Turkic descent–and could potentially lead to territorial and compensations claims against the Republic of Turkey;"
-The ATAA urges its members to tell members of Congress that HRes316 and HConRes195 "provide a one-sided–misinformed view of WWI Ottoman history and would deal a great blow to the Turkish American community–and furthermore inflict damage upon the partnership between Turkey and the United States;"
-The ATAA stresses that resolutions such as HRes316 and HConRes195 "impede dialogue and reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey–discouraging the Armenian side from engaging in scholarly examination of these complicated historical events;"
-The ATAA notes that "As the Armenian American lobby acts up again–we have only two choices: we can be passive and allow these allegations to go on–or we can stand up and defend ourselves–our history–and the future of our children here in the United States;"
-The ATAA stresses that its efforts are not "anti-Armenian," explaining that "Armenian people are held hostage by the agenda of their country’s ultra-nationalist government and extremists in the Armenian American–European and Middle Eastern communities."
Text of ATC Chairman Brent Scowcroft’s Letter to Speaker Hastert:
The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Dear Mr. Speaker:
As Chairman of the American-Turkish Council–I am gravely concerned about plans to debate in the House of Representatives HConRes195–a resolution "Commemorating the Armenian Genocide" and urging the Government of Turkey to acknowledge the culpability of Ottoman Turks for it–and HRes316–a resolution recognizing claims of "genocide" of Armenia’s by Ottoman Turks. Together with ATC’s members–I strongly urge opposition to these resolutions and suggest that floor deliberation of them would be counter-productive to the interest of the United States.
Whatever people individually decide on the merits of these resolutions–it is important to note the real world consequences of their adoption. When the French Senate passed such a resolution–it cost France over $1 billion in cancelled contracts and lost business opportunities. Enactment of genocide language would jeopardize our ability to achieve strategic interest with Turkey and in the region. Furthermore–it is quite likely that the business interest of several of our American members would be jeopardized by passage of such prejudicial legislation.
The American-Turkish Council strongly believes that the events about which HConRes195 and HRes316 speak are matters for historians to decide-not politicians. Unfortunately–these resolutions express–as matters of law and fact–issues that remain widely disputed by scholars–historians–and legal experts. Accordingly–we strongly urge you to review the attached letter that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan sent Armenian President Robert Kocharian on April 10–2005–seeking to normalize bilateral relations as well as address painful long-standing historical issues.
Although Armenian President Kocharian rejected his offer–we are encouraged that Prime Minister Erdogan and his government–by reaching out to Armenia with an offer for an open dialogue on difficult issues involving Turks and Armenia’s–are taking an historic step. Turkish-Armenian rapprochement is in the best interests of both nations–and the ATC believes now is the time for reconciliation. We sincerely hope that President Kocharian and his government will take the opportunity to reciprocate the olive branch extended by Prime Minister Erdogan.
Turkey’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe–the Middle East–the Caucasus–and the Balkans places it at the center of American’s current and long term strategic interest. As Turkey stands on the threshold of accession talks with the European Union–the US should be doing all it can to encourage positive momentum for Turkey. HConRes195–while purporting to support Turkey’s EU accession talks–and HRes316 do exactly the opposite. The resolutions encourage those who would pull Turkey away from the West. The careless use of genocide language provides an excuse to do so–delivering a direct blow to American interests in the region.
The ATC believes that legislators should not attempt to resolve historical issues by resolution. Historical commissions–fairly staffed–adequately supported–and afforded full access to the archives–are better suited to attempting the reconciliation that we all support.
On behalf of the members of the American-Turkish Council–I strongly urge you to oppose floor deliberation and adoption of any language that would substitute political pronouncemen’s for historical analysis of this highly sensitive issue.
Chairman of the Board