Turkey has summoned the U.S. ambassador to Ankara over a resolution passed by U.S. lawmakers recognizing the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire a century ago as genocide.
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal conveyed Turkey’s dismay over the move to envoy David Satterfield, the Foreign Ministry said on December 13, the day after the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the resolution.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a similar nonbinding measure in October.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian expressed his “gratitude” on behalf of the Armenian people for this “important and historic decision.”
Turkish officials have warned that the two votes in the U.S. Congress would deal a blow to the already fragile ties between the two NATO allies, with Vice President Fuat Oktay calling the Senate resolution an attempt at “rewriting history based on lies.”
AFP quoted a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Ankara as saying the Senate vote didn’t change the administration’s position, pointing out that U.S. President Donald Trump had stopped short of calling the mass killing genocide.
During and immediately after World War I, Ottoman Turks killed or deported as many as 1.5 million Armenians — a Christian minority in the predominately Muslim empire. Many historians, Armenia, and more than 30 other countries consider the killings genocide.
Turkey objects to the use of the word genocide to describe the killings. Ankara claims the deaths were a result of civil strife rather than a planned Ottoman government effort to annihilate Armenians. Turkey also claims fewer Armenians died than has generally been reported.