Tuesday, February 23, 2010

'Passing genocide resolution will poison the normalization process'

   According to the majority of Washington, D.C., insiders, the Armenian genocide resolution will pass the House Foreign Relations Committee in early March. Similar resolutions have already passed several times in the past, and the issue is being handled like a “Sword of Damocles” against Turkey, according to the Turkish side.
Turkey sees the resolution as poison for the normalization process. Some argue that it is a poison not just for the Turkey-Armenia relationship. As one important foreign-affairs official said when I was in Turkey recently, “it has the potential to poison Turkish-American relationships as well.”
The Armenian genocide resolution being taken up by the House Foreign Relations Committee has huge implications for international relationships, though it is essentially being steered by U.S. domestic politics. As former U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler pointed out, many members of Congress feel they have to honor the promises they made when they were running for their seats under pressure from members of the Armenian diaspora in their districts.
Another equation in the matter that relates to American domestic politics is the Democratic Party’s extremely vulnerable standing in a mid-term election year. According to the Cook Political Report, one of the best handicappers, there is a chance that the Democrats could lose their majority in the Senate in the upcoming elections, after losing the filibuster-proof, super-majority in the Massachusetts elections Jan. 20. Therefore, in such a difficult year, many Congressional figures do not want to ire the Armenian voter base.
Therefore, the “all politics is local” principle is very much alive when it comes to this issue as well, especially in this year. The problem is, this time, the results of the domestic political interests of members of the U.S. Congress might have a tremendously damaging impact on both American-Turkish and Turkish-Armenian relations.
The Turkish administration also thinks that such a resolution, which will urge U.S. President Barack Obama to recognize the tragic events early last century as genocide, “will prejudice the possible findings and studies of the History Commission that is expected to be created by ratifying protocols.”
I think all parties would accept that the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia is not going the way one would like to see it going. However, as Wexler pointed out in the same speech at Seta D.C., both countries’ leaders should be applauded and encouraged for their courageous risk-taking in domestic and foreign affairs instead of threatened by other countries’ legislation branches.
In my last column, I openly criticized the Turkish administration for the way it is handling the protocols process so far, as it seems to me that Turkey has missed some of the tactical steps badly and at present it is tumbling.
However, criticizing Turkey’s approach to the protocols does not mean one should overlook the U.S. Congress’ mismanaging or using the resolution in a seemingly very narrow-minded and domestic-focused fashion.
When Obama came into office, there was a moment of “Obama bounce” in many countries, including Turkey, as his election changed many of the misgivings of the past, though anti-Americanism is still an important factor among the Turkish public. According to Turkish officials, this image-building work would be hit immensely if such a resolution passes. And this is not a guess.
“If the resolution passes, Turkey would not step back, and its reaction could be very severe,” one high-ranking Turkish official says, referencing what happened in 2007, when Turkey recalled then-Ambassador Nabi Şensoy back to Ankara for the first time in history, as a traditional showing of protest.
Turkish foreign affairs, “with its new Caucasus vision, would like to regard the region as a whole concept.” And the Turkish-Armenian normalization process should also be seen as an element of this concept. Therefore, according to Turkey, America’s legislative branch should not take actions to make matters worse for U.S. national security and geopolitical interests in a time when America is already going through a tough period in the same region.
Still, what happens if the resolution passes in a key U.S. congressional committee early next month and consequently passes on the floor of the House of Representatives? First of all, so far none of the people I have talked to, many of whom are extremely involved with the process, predict that the resolution will pass on the House floor, even if the majority of the same people think that the resolution will pass at the committee level. However, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, even successful passage at the committee level will “torpedo” the ratification of the protocols in the Turkish Parliament.
Turkey’s position against the recognition of genocide at the presidential level would be much starker than the congressional level. With its new-found proactive foreign affairs, Turkey believes it can recalculate the changing dynamics in the region and reconsider its positioning with respect to the relations in its traditional U.S. alliance.
When I asked Congressman Wexler at Seta D.C. why the U.S. administration has been surprisingly quiet so far over the Armenian genocide resolution, he agreed that there is indeed a silence on the U.S. administration side, though he added that he expects the State Department and Pentagon to put up the same kind of fight against the resolution as past administrations did. Nonetheless, he openly stated that the U.S. administration’s attitude toward the resolution “remains to be seen.”
Stephen Larrabee from the RAND Corporation said that he expects Obama to be talking behind the scenes with congressional leaders to stop the resolution. Two leaders in the Jewish community in Washington that I talked to, however, acknowledged off the record that this time around, neither Jewish representatives nor the various Jewish lobbies in Washington will fight against the resolution. The reason, I think is obvious: to protest Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attitude toward Israel.
The president of the American-Turkish Council, Ambassador James Holmes, stated in an interview with me that “the U.S. Congress was shut down last week because of snow, and this week it is also in Presidents’ Day holiday recess. There will be only four or five days left to reach out to different House Foreign Relations Committee members to explain Turkey’s position. It seems to me, they are trying to pass this resolution in a quick and clandestine fashion this year.”
It might be safe to say that there is very little convincing evidence to argue that the genocide resolution will be stopped in early March.
Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan will be presenting his credentials to President Obama on Feb. 25 and will resume his post right after, in a very toilsome period. As one congressional source who is close to the Jewish lobbying forces told me this week, “Tan’s appointment to Washington is one of the best pieces of news to come out of the Turkish side in recent times.”
I hope Ambassador Tan will be able to do his job adequately during this difficult time. The ambassador is expected to resume his post by many of Turkey’s friends in Washington and he should be able to have enough time and opportunities to display his diplomatic skills in years to come.
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Guest - ramesh (2010-02-22 20:10:57) :
The Ottoman empire has bigger genocides to its name than the Arminian.To admit to this is like kill an ant.There is greatness in admiting your mistakes 

Guest - Dan (2010-02-21 21:33:12) :
In this regard it seems that Turkey could do well in looking at the example set by modern Germany. It fully acknowledged the Genocide perpetrated by the Nazis, it payed reparations to survivors and it is today a very well respected member of the world community. Turkey should likewise: accept responsability, acknowledge history and set some sort of fund to pay reparations to the descendents of the victims of the Armanian Genocide, and in so doing regain a respectful position in the community of nations. 

Guest - kevin (2010-02-21 21:27:35) :
I admire Turkish newspapers publishing articles about the genocide!! I don't want any land, compensation about genocide recognizition. I want it so Turkey won't do it again against its Armenian or Christian inhabitants--also Muslim. Turkey would have a benefit by recognizing it. Really, Goksel Doganay! Turkey spends MILLIONS of its TAXPAYERS $ fighting it! It gives "donations" to universities to fight it. It pays for ads, including ads on the Internet. Why do you think Turkey is the ONLY Muslim country that is friends with Israel? There is an implicit agreement that Israel won't recognize the genocide if Turkey remains its ally. Also, some Jewish-Americans will fight recognition on behalf of Israel's interests. Hence, this affects Turkish foreign policy. IT WON'T GO AWAY UNTIL TURKEY COMES CLEAN WITH ITS PAST! If Turkey ever wants to be a moral leader in the world, it has to come clean with its past. Until then, it will be viewed as it currently is in the world. 

Guest - Joseph Malkoun (2010-02-21 20:35:09) :
I wonder where this stalemate between Turkey and Armenians would ultimately lead. If I were a Turkish government official and thinking long term, I would be looking for ways to resolve this problem that left unattended might become an accelerator for additional internal dissensions. Turkey-Armenia relations are one thing, Turkey-Armenian Diaspora another thing. Both these tracks have to be pursued at the same time and Turkey can take the initiative by opening unconditionally the border with Armenia as a first step. Treat the opening of the border as a normal relations between any two countries in the world and you can take the sting out of this messy relationship. Then deal with other issues through continuous dialogue - step by step. You can not solve ALL the problems at once and the fact that there are problems should not be an impediment for creative thinking. Am I lecturing ? No. This is what we learnt and practiced as conflict resolution techniques and methods and it worked! 

Guest - bud white (2010-02-21 15:43:56) :
@ dimitris kipouros you greeks never cease to amaze me when the matter ıs armenıans we see you holdıng eacother hands like with PKK ang god knows whatelse stop thınkıng us as your enemies otherwıse you wıll keep lıving ın the stupıd fear of turks we dont have problems wıth greek people just some dıspute over certaın matters we look at ıt that way and please stop wrıtıng that what ıs good for turkey cause ıt looks sılly when the ıntentıon ıs somthıng else:D 

Guest - Mr Goksel Doganay (2010-02-21 14:48:40) :
The Genocide allegations are only that allegations. US will never recognise allegations of Genocide against Turkey because 1. It never happened and 2. There is no benefit. My message to all the smug Armenians on this site is if your so keen to live in peace why don't you move on rather than asking the Turks to move. I suggest that you move on, because you will never get recognition, compensation, land, sympathy or anything. In conclusion get over it! 

Guest - Stephan (2010-02-21 12:12:20) :
China protested fiercely about Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama with no success.Obama met the Lama ignoring China"s threats. Why should Turkey"s threats be taken more seriously bearing in mind that China is more important to them? 

Guest - MARK (2010-02-21 00:14:44) :
j2-I intended to write a response to faith and duyum but your post was better than anything I could have said. Like they say MAN UP. 

Guest - John Alexopoulos (2010-02-20 23:22:28) :
Too much ado about the TRUTH. Recognizing the genocide is step forward in the right direction. It will be good for all including Turkey, after all nobody is accusing today's Turks of commiting a crime, it is the Ottomans that did it, and they did, everybody knows it. 

Guest - Mito (2010-02-20 22:48:08) :
well, if those who think that the US and Armenians do not need those angry Turks then they should help pass these bills and also perhaps ask the international crimonal court in Den Haag to revisit their decision that Srebrenica was not a genocide ( ohh I forgot, those were Muslims, then never mind) ..Anyhow then good riddance with those angry Turks...go ahead and just tell us Turks that you do not need us and we'll be out of your way. I feel so sorry for all those Christian nations that they had to put up with us for all these years..Just go ahead and leave us alone ! I am sick and tired of these threats and insults. 

Guest - Hayuhi (2010-02-20 21:58:17) :
It's only a matter of time. Turkey can not be in the denial of its past for ever.No matter how hard Turkey must accept the Armenian Genocide like a mature state. It's no good getting paranoid about it.Only good can come out of this recognition. Turkey and Turks can be unchained from this historic denial and then the respective parties can move on! 

Guest - Mardiros Melkonian (2010-02-20 21:56:27) :
Le me first congratulate HURRIYET Daily News and the Turkish media in general for their openness in recent months to discuss formerly taboo issues, including the Armenian Genocide. This gives a much better impression of a liberated society that can handle difficult issues and thus give credit to the story told by the other side. The sad part of all this though is the slow motion "conversion" that the Turkish state has adopted to come to grips with a problem that will not and can not go away. We understand very well what Ilhan Tahir is saying. However, the longer it takes for the recognition of Genocide to be accepted by the US government , the longer the latent tension on this matter will persist in US -Turkish relations without leading to a solution while Turkey will have constantly to fight back a losing battle. Is this strategic thinking ? Is this a statesmanlike attitude? Official Turkey can fundamentally change the dynamics of the situation if President Gul or Prime Minister Erdogan decide to attend in Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul a memorial service to the victims of the Genocide. Armenians in Turkey are Turkish citizens and there is nothing more noble for Turkish leadership to-day than to share that pain with their own citizens. This could be a tremendous symbolic act that can alter the way Armenians and Turks see the tragedy of the past. Then talking and communicating will be easier . 

Guest - kevin (2010-02-20 20:03:43) :
Off course the genocide happened. Look at newspapers during that time period! It isn't going to go away until Turkey admits to its dark past. Why are they afraid to admit to it? Afraid of giving up land? Won't happen. Who would force them to give up land to benefit Armenia which is allies with Russia? NOT the US. Just ask the other ethnic groups about genocide, the Greeks and Assryians. Genocide was also done against them by the Ottomans. Ask the Kurds, they know about the genocide. The ONLY country that denies it is Turkey. 

Guest - Murat (2010-02-20 19:56:28) :
Please please lets all get behind this resolution and make it happen. Facts will remain facts. History is not written by a bunch of politicians. Only myths require this much propping and protection. World will not come to an end, and no damage will or should come to the bilateral relationships. This ridiculous and emotional Turkish response is what keeps the genocide industry alive. Pass the resolution and end this annual charade. 

Guest - Fatih (2010-02-20 15:15:26) :
inonu said this republic will fall under the plots of christians and jews once we are! 

Guest - Fatih (2010-02-20 15:03:35) :
Which ever way the yanks and armenians spin this they cant change history. All I hope Turkey would do in response to this is keep the border shut, and deport the 70000 something illegal armenains in Turkey. 

Guest - vilgot (2010-02-20 13:29:54) :
It is underlined in the article that US's resolution will poison the relationship, as if it only US's fault and as if Turkey is not capable of making any decisions. But we should also consider that we in Turkey are free to react however we want. If I as a person is insulted, I as an individual have the choice to respond in different ways and also consider how reaction will be perceived by others. The same is valid for Turkey. Turkey can chose how to respond and chose what kind of relationship it wants with US. It is not only up to US to decide that. 

Guest - dimitris kipouros (2010-02-20 12:41:29) :
Useless spoiling of time and energy. While Russia,France ,Greece and many other countries recognise Genocide of armenias and this recognitions do not damage bilateral relations it is appear that turks care only about resolution of north-americans. The turkish behaviour is behaviour of servant against the master. It will be much better to recognise Genocide and to moove from dark past to the future. 

Guest - dimitris kipouros (2010-02-20 12:40:36) :
Useless spoiling of time and energy. While Russia,France ,Greece and many other countries recognise Genocide of armenias and this recognitions do not damage bilateral relations it is appear that turks care only about resolution of north-americans. The turkish behaviour is behaviour of servant against the master. It will be much better to recognise Genocide and to moove from dark past to the future. 

Guest - duyum (2010-02-20 11:18:32) :
The US should FIRST recognise the genocide of the American Indians + the genocide of the Mexican's + the genocide of the Africans + the genocide of the Japanese (Hiroshima+Nagasaki) + the genocide of the Vietnames + the genocide of the Iraqis + the genocide of the Afghans ++++++ all the many other genocides that the US has committed and is committing today, before it even attempts to look at Ottoman history! It's way past time that the US STOP its hypocritical ways! There is more than enough documentary evidence to prove that the events, pertaining to the period in question involving the Ottoman Armenians, WAS NOT GENOCIDE, or to at least provide REASONABLE DOUBT about the Armenian ALLEGATIONS. If the US refuses to see this, if the US chooses to take propaganda and forgery and outright lies and hearsay as evidence, if the US does not DEMAND A FAIR TRIAL before condemning the Turks, if the US does all of this for reasons of political gain, SHAME ON THEM! 

Guest - j2 (2010-02-20 07:25:22) :
“it has the potential to poison Turkish-American relationships as well.”…ah…I think the US will get over it , just like the French have. It is high time that Turks realized that Turkish national interests depend on the US fully, while only some of US interests can be affected by an "angry" Turkey. Even so, Turks should be reminded about the resiliency of US abilities to take care of itself and not be hindered by any actions by small states, such as Turkey, towards their foreign policy goals and actions. It is absurd to think that the US either buys or cares about pompous Turkish attitude. All talk of "unforeseen consequences" about something that is both undeniable and morally the right thing to do, is just that, talk. What will or can Turkey do to the US that will not inevitably harm Turks at the end of the day? 

Guest - danny (2010-02-20 05:47:02) :
Mr. Tanir, You shouldnt be mouthpiece of the Turkish government. I think they can talk for themselves okay. You have been pretty objective so far, and you should continue doing it. still i think it is okay to voice sometimes turkey's view, i guess.. if you have to!! 

Guest - Hovsep Mardirossian (2010-02-20 05:38:39) :
Mr. Tanir expresses well the fears of official Turkey without providing a window on the strategic course Turkey should take to resolve the issue.It took an Alexander the Great to cut the Gordian knot ! All that we have seen so far are feeble Turkish initiatives and attempts the objective of which seems to be to outsmart Armenia and Armenians hoping that the problem would ultimately go away rather than dealing with a problem inherited from the Ottoman past . No one familiar with Turkish-Armenian affairs can deny the fact that the Genocide issue goes to the heart of the relations between the two countries. Who is to blame ? The one who has tried to ignore it or the one who tries to remind the world of the injustice that took place. I as a direct descendant of those who suffered the consequences of the Genocide in 1915 can not forget if the descendant of perpetrator does not want to recognize the deed. I cannot hold today's Turkey and Turks for what happened in 1915 but I also can not accept that they chose to ignore it because it suits them better this way. 

Guest - Greg Shirvanian (2010-02-20 01:29:18) :
Very controversial article. Hard to agree in essence. Who held back Turkey since Oct 10 from ratifying the protocols with Armenia? Or it hopes to manipulate them endlessly to press Armenia for Karabakh and USA for the resolution? Why should Erdogan and Gul think they are smart enough to fool everybody around in the world? I hope they now do understand that any game has its beginning and end. 

1 comment:

Goksel Doganay said...

Kevin listen buddy I suggest you go off and have a cry. No one cares for the Armenian diaspora or Armenia in general. Armenia is no oasis of Democracy or a respected state. So relying on Western prejudice will only get you so far. Turkey doesn't need Israeli help for no Genocide recognition. Insisting on a recognition of Genocide will get you no were. Turkey will offer you sympathy, apology, land, money or benefit. Keep dreaming and have a cry!