WASHINGTON (Combined Sources)–Turkey recalled its ambassador to Washington Thursday evening after a congressional panel voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
In a statement issued after the vote, a Turkish government spokesman said: “We condemn this resolution which accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed. Following this development, our ambassador to Washington, Namik Tan, was recalled to Ankara for consultations.”
Armenia, however, described the vote as a boost for human rights. Edward Nalbandian, the Armenian Foreign Minister, told Reuters: “We highly appreciate the decision. This is further proof of the devotion of the American people to universal human values and is an important step towards the prevention of crimes against humanity.”
The 23-22 vote to approve the resolution by the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee came despite pressure to drop the matter by the Obama administration. The resolution, H.Res.252, calls on the US to formally affirm the US historical record on the crime against humanity. The vote means that the resolution – which is non-binding – is now cleared for consideration by the full House.
Turkey had warned that its ties with the United States, and attempts to normalize relations with Armenia, would be damaged if the resolution were approved. Turkey and Armenia signed a protocol last year to normalize relations but it has yet to pass through the parliament of either country. Turkey has set a series of preconditions on Armenia to fulfill before it agrees to sign it.
In a last-ditch attempt to avoid a vote, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Howard Berman, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, a fellow Democrat, to highlight the potential fallout.
Despite the appeal, Berman went ahead with the debate. He said Turkey was a “vital” ally but “nothing justifies Turkey’s turning a blind eye to the reality of the Armenian genocide.”