ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–A regular weekly meeting of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s cabinet will focus on drawing up a roadmap concerning the current course of affairs in bilateral relations between Ankara and Washington after a US congressional committee voted to pass a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
Turkey has expressed its outrage over the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs’ approval of the non-binding resolution on Thursday, in a vote broadcast live on Turkish television, and recalled its envoy to the United States for consultations.
“The decision of the Foreign Affairs Committee will not hurt Turkey, but it will greatly harm bilateral relations, interests and vision. Turkey will not be the one who loses,” Erdogan said on Saturday, speaking to a group of Turkish businessmen.
The road map is expected to contain flexibility in regards to “retaliatory” steps, as Ankara will also have to focus on preventing US President Barack Obama from recognizing the Armenian Genocide in an annual White House statement on April 24, the day marking Armenian the 95th anniversary of the crime against humanity.
The Obama administration, for its part, made a last-minute appeal against the resolution and has said it will stop the vote from going further in Congress.
Diplomatic sources have said self-isolating measures such as shutting down Incirlik Air Base, used by the US military, or cutting defense imports from the US are unlikely at this stage. But damage to the partnership with Turkey is likely to hurt US strategic interests in the Middle East and Afghanistan, where Turkey is a key contributor to the NATO-led peacekeeping force. Its growing clout in the Middle East has given Ankara a key role in the region, making it capable of exerting influence on US policy.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu gave a cautious answer when asked whether retaliatory steps such as withdrawing troops from Afghanistan or a change of regulation regarding the US use of Incirlik Air Base in Adana could be on the agenda.
Such issues will be discussed with Tan upon his arrival, Davutoglu said, adding that the issue would be discussed later at the Cabinet meeting as well as with President Abdullah Gul and opposition parties.