The document still has to go through the Senate, only then will it be signed by the US President
The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly recognized the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
405 people voted for the resolution, only 11 congressmen voted against, three abstained.
At the same time, the resolution was supported by both Democrats and members of the US Republican Party, represented by President Donald Trump.
Now the document must go through the Senate. If the Senate also approves it, the resolution will be signed by the US President.
So far, US presidents, including Donald Trump, in their official speeches, speaking about the events of 1915, still have not used the words “genocide”.
The Armenian Genocide refers to the massacre in Ottoman Turkey in 1915.
Before that, about two and a half million Armenians lived on the territory of the Ottoman Empire. As a result of the killings and mass deportation, more than half of them died.
The tragic events in the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century were recognized as genocide and condemned by influential international organizations, including the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the World Council of Churches. Among the countries that recognized the Armenian Genocide, Canada, Argentina, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Russia, Belgium, France, Poland, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Greece, Cyprus, the Vatican, Germany, Lebanon and 48 US states.
Turkey categorically does not accept the word genocide.
According to Reuters, the US Congress has been slow for years to recognize the massacre of Armenians as fears of deterioration in relations with NATO ally Turkey.
However, behind the accelerated consideration of the resolution is the deterioration of US relations with Turkey. Recently, several factors have affected the situation:
• Turkey’s military operation against the Syrian Kurds, who were the key allies of the Americans in the fight against the Islamic State group. And all this happened after Donald Trump suddenly announced his withdrawal from Syria.
• Turkey’s decision to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems, despite US disapproval.
Moreover, its supporters do not hide the geopolitical context of the adoption of the resolution. On the day the Turkish operation in Syria began, Congressman Ted Lew, who represents a district with a significant Armenian population, wrote on Twitter that now is the time for the United States to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Moreover, immediately after the vote on the Armenian Genocide, members of the House of Representatives also overwhelmingly supported a law urging Trump to impose sanctions against Turkey.
According to the bill, it is proposed to impose sanctions against senior Turkish officials, including the Minister of Defense, to block the assets of Turkish officials, and to impose sanctions against Turkish banks.
In addition, the bill calls to provide Congress with information on the assets of the family of Turkish President Erdogan in the United States for further discussion.
The reaction in Armenia
One of the first to respond to the adoption of the resolution was Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan.
“I salute the US Congress historic vote recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Resolution 296 is a bold step towards serving truth and historical justice that also offers comfort to millions of descendants of the Armenians genocide survivors,” Pashinyan wrote on his Twitter page.
Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, in turn, expressed gratitude to the US Congress:
“Thank you, US Congress. Justice and truth consolidated in the historic resolution No. 296. Tribute to memory of victims of the Armenian Genocide. Massive message against denialism. Deep gratitude to each of the 405 votes.”
The reaction in Turkey
Turkey acknowledges that many Armenians who lived in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes during the First World War, but disputes the numbers and denies that the killings were systematically organised and constitute genocide.
As for foreign participation in this issue, Ankara assesses this as a threat to its sovereignty.
The Turkish press reacted to the news by reprinting official messages and comments.
For example, Turkish Ambassador to the United States Sardar Kılıc wrote on Twitter:
“Far from the historical truth, not based on objective studies and assessments, including archival documents of the countries involved, the limited decisions of foreign deputies, made by them under the influence of well-known lobbies, will not tarnish the glorious history of our country.”
Turkey condemned the document adopted in the United States, stating that the genocide resolution “is devoid of any historical or legal basis.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also rejected the resolution and stated that it has no historical or legal grounds, nor any legal force.
Moreover, they called the document “a meaningless political step”, since it is “absolutely invalid” for the government and people of Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the decision of the American Congressmen an attempt to “use history to achieve political goals.”
The US ambassador to Ankara has already been summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, but so far there are no reports on the delivery of the official note of protest.
Earlier, official Ankara has repeatedly stated that if the Armenian Genocide is recognized, it will recall its ambassador from Washington.
Turkish social media fully supported the official position. In general, users wrote that the US was trying to punish Turkey for the operation “Spring of Peace”, which, in their words, is just a measure to ensure the safety of Turkish citizens:
“All this is nothing but political blackmail. If they don’t like something that Turkey is doing, they play the genocide card”
Thomas de Waal, a senior expert on Caucasus issues at the Washington Carnegie Endowment, also touched on the topic of the resolution on his Twitter page.
“Yet I still use the term ‘Armenian genocide’ because what happened to them in 1915-16 does fit the UN Genocide Convention,” wrote De Waal.
However, the political scientist believes that the resolution was adopted in order to punish Turkey:
“The historical record has already established: US legislators have no authority on that. We know most of them did so more to punish Erdogan’s Turkey than to honor Armenians … If some nationalist Turks, who traditionally harbor paranoia about Great Power conspiracies against them, respond by persecuting Istanbul Armenians, cancelling flights to Armenia or damaging Armenian heritage, that will be no victory.”
According to De Waal, the real debate should unfold in Turkey:
“The real debate is to be had in Turkish society – where there has been much progress over 20 years and many historians and others own up to the horrors of 1915… The House vote will be helpful if this is the start of something, not the end.”
US Vice President Joe Biden also welcomed the resolution. In his Twitter entry, Biden emphasized that, recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the Americans not only honor the memory of the murdered Armenians, but also say “never again”.
The reaction of the Armenian diaspora in the USA
The vocalist of the American band System of a Down Serge Tankian called on the US Senate to follow the example of the House of Representatives:
“The U.S. House of Representatives took a large step toward justice today by properly honoring history with a formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Many congressional leaders and individual have worked tirelessly for decades to see this happen.”
The American television star Kim Kardashian did not stand idly by either. On her Twitter page, she posted a photo that showed how many representatives of the House voted “for” the adoption of the resolution and how many “against.”
“Wow, look at these incredible numbers – the U.S. just recognized the Armenian Genocide … Today we make history.”
Expert opinion from Yerevan
Political scientist Suren Sargsyan believes that the adoption of the resolution was not an unexpected event.
“I expected it because active work was Being carried out both by lobbyists and by individual organizations, so everything happened so quickly.”
According to Sargsyan, the adoption of the document was influenced by two factors – the deterioration of US-Turkish relations, which “are now not at the highest level” and the active work of Armenian lobbyists.
“There is a global anti-Turkish attitude. This period coincided with the active work of our lobbyists, who used this period of time very competently and professionally,” Sargsyan noted.
When asked whether the adoption of the resolution was a way to “punish” Turkey, the political scientist replied:
“The most important thing is that in addition to this resolution (on recognition of the genocide), a second resolution on anti-Turkish sanctions was adopted. If the goal was to punish the Turks, then there was another resolution for this. And the Genocide resolution – it is separate – is on this particular topic.”
Armenian social media reaction
Since the night of October 29, Armenian Facebook users have been actively discussing one news – whether the House of Representatives will recognize the genocide or not.
Here are some of the comments:
“This is an extremely important event. This is important because it will now be difficult to say that what happened was not genocide, but simply – (!!!) – the massacre of Armenians, who were a ‘fifth column’ in the collapsing Ottoman Empire.
“But for me personally, it’s much more important that this is a big step towards restoring justice for the one and a half million innocent people killed in those terrible years.”
“I would really like my ancestors, who survived all those terrible events, to be able to see what is happening today with their own eyes.”
“Maybe at least now the souls of one and a half million Armenians will be able to rest in peace.”
“The states needed to punish a partner for Syria. Done The brilliant move for the States, I hope, is not fatal for Armenia.”
“What exactly will change if the USA officially recognized the Armenian Genocide? Specifically, how will this affect Turkey ?! The states recognized that Erdogan will shut up and will no longer yell from all the stands that modern Armenia is also Turkey? Will the sanctions follow?”
“And everything would be fine, only they do it solely to annoy Erdogan. The recognition of genocide is an instrument of pressure on Erdogan, not justice.”
“We have always been and remain a bargaining chip!!!”