Abdullah Gül, who met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington on Tuesday, said that passage of the resolution would "spoil everything" between the long-standing allies.
"The resolution submitted to Congress is a great threat which could poison all our relations," he told reporters in Washington. He noted that Turkey had "worked shoulder-to-shoulder" with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan and warned that the resolution was bad "as much for Turkey as for the United States."
In a wide-ranging one-on-one meeting and working lunch, Rice and Gül discussed the renewed moves in the US Congress to pass a law recognizing the 1915 massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide. US officials are reassuring Gül that they will try to quash the proposed resolution in Congress. Before her meeting with Gül, Rice called Turkey "a strategic ally, a global partner (that) shares our values."
State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said, "We understand very clearly that this is a sensitive issue not only for the Turkish people but for the Armenian people." A number of legislatures around the world have recognized the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey during World War I as genocide. But while US President George W. Bush commemorates the massacres each year in a speech, his administration had stopped short of backing the genocide bills.
Turkey illustrated how seriously it takes the issue in October when it said it would suspend military operations with France after French lawmakers voted in October to make it a crime to deny the killings were genocide. Gül made no such threats against the United States. Instead he highlighted the friendship between the two countries. "We have strategic issues of our relations based on the values," he said.
US President Bush will have to persuade the now Democrat-controlled congress which does not need presidential approval for such a resolution. Members behind the proposed bill have said they expect a push by the administration and lobbyists working for the Turkish government to keep the resolution from a full vote by the House.
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. Gül said they do not plan to meet with Pelosi because she is "too engaged" in the issue but he will meet with his close aides and friends to make sure Turkey's views are heard. 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.
Meanwhile, a planned visit by a Turkish parliamentary delegation to the US has been cancelled upon Gül's request. A part of lobbying efforts at the US Congress against a possible genocide resolution, the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Mehmet Dülger said Gül had called him from the US to postpone the visit.
"We informed our counterparts about the postponement of our visit. I think the Turkish mission in Washington D.C. would be overwhelmed by the Turkish delegations' visits one after another."
'PKK problem needs to be resolved'
In meetings with Rice and other officials, Gül also raised US cooperation on preventing Kurdish separatists from using northern Iraq as a sanctuary and a base of operations against Turkey. The Turkish government has expressed frustration with the level of US help in rooting out terrorists of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), holed up in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
Retired Gen. Joseph Ralston, a former NATO supreme allied commander, has been coordinating US efforts for countering the PKK. Gül warned against suggestions in some US political circles that Iraq could be split into three autonomous regions, which Turkey fears would create an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq and embolden PKK separatists in southeastern Turkey. "A soft partition of Iraq is a fantasy," he said. "Iraq does not have internal boundaries."
McCormack told reporters, "General Ralston is working to decrease those tensions on both sides of the border between the Iraqis and the Turks. We are engaging in diplomacy so that you don't end up with an armed confrontation in northern Iraq. I don't think anybody really wants to see that."
He also noted that the United States wants to try to resolve PKK use of Kurdish territory in northern Iraq for attacks on Turkish territory. "Innocent people have died as result of the PKK," McCormack said, adding that Washington wants a settlement that is acceptable to both Turkey and Iraq. He said Rice briefed Gül on Ralston's activities.
During Tuesday's lunch at the State Department Rice and Gül also exchanged views on Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey's relationship with the European Union and Kosovo.
Today's ZamanGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16