Turkey not ready to return envoy to Washington

March 9, 2010 by Post Team 

Turkey not ready to return envoy to Washington:RIYADH: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday Turkey is not ready to return its ambassador to Washington after a US Congress panel branded the World War I massacre of Armenians as genocide.

“As long as the situation does not get any clearer we will not send back our ambassador to Washington,” Erdogan said about the tiff over the Armenia resolution passed by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.

“America should not let go of a strategic ally like Turkey over such an issue,” he said.

An infuriated Ankara recalled Ambassador Namik Tan on Thursday, shortly after the panel narrowly approved the non-binding resolution.

The move, opposed by the administration of President Barack Obama, now opens the door for a vote by the full House of Representatives.

Erdogan called the move “a comedy stunt” and blamed the vote on a combination of “unbecoming” voting procedures in the US Congress and a change of attitude by the “Jewish lobby” to back the action.

“The Jewish lobby in the US supported this resolution,” he said.

The resolution calls on Obama to ensure that US foreign policy reflects an understanding of the “genocide” and to label the mass killings as such in his annual statement on the issue.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed during World War I by their Ottoman rulers in a planned campaign of extermination as the empire was falling apart, a stance that is supported by several other countries.

The massacres followed a roundup in Istanbul on April 24, 1915, the date on which Armenians each year hold rallies around the world.

Turkey categorically rejects the genocide label. It argues that between 300,000 and 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks were killed in civil strife when Armenians rose up for independence and sided with invading Russian forces.

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