Turkey on Thursday ordered its ambassador to the US to return to
Ankara in protest against a US Congress vote to declare the
killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1917 a genocide.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman announced that
Ambasaador Nabi Sensoy will return Turkey and stay in the country
for about one week or 10 days for consultations over the US
genocide vote, according to the semi-official Anatolia news
"We are not withdrawing our ambassador. We have asked him to
come to Turkey for consultations," stressed Bilman.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US
House of Representatives approved a resolution by 27 votes to 21
votes to label the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire
during World War I as an act of genocide.
The resolution drew immediately Turkish government's
condemnation, though it would have no binding effect on the US
"Our government regrets and condemns this decision. It is
unacceptable that the Turkish nation has been accused of something
that never happened in the past," the Turkish government said in a
statement released by the foreign ministry.
"The committee's approval of this resolution was an
irresponsible move, which at a greatly sensitive time will make
relations with a friend and ally, and a strategic partnership
nurtured over generations, more difficult," the Turkish authorities
said in the statement.
Armenians say more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a
systematic genocide under the Ottoman Empire during World War
But Turkey insists the Armenians were victims of widespread
chaos and governmental breakdown as the 600-year-old empire
collapsed in the years before 1923 when the modern Turkey was
Although the US leadership has warned against the pass of the
resolution, the US lawmakers gave their nod to the bill.
US President George W. Bush on Wednesday urged Congress not to
pass the bill, saying that it would do "great harm" to US relations
with Turkey, which in Bush's word as "a key ally in NATO and in the
global war on terror."
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary
Robert Gates had also denounced the measure, saying "the passage of
this resolution at this time would be very problematic for
everything we are trying to do in the Middle East."
Some 70 percent of US air cargo headed for Iraq goes through
Turkey's airspace, as does about a third of the fuel used by the US
military in Iraq, according to Gates.
(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2007)