Albright Says Armenian Genocide Bill would 'Damage' US Interests
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday came down squarely against a bill recognizing the controversial 1915 killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide saying passage of the resolution would damage US interests as well as relations with Turkey.
"Legislative measures such as this one can hurt our efforts to improve relations between Armenia and Turkey and can't help promote peace and security in the region," Albright told the congressional committee that is expected to pass the bill on Thursday.
"I have to tell you frankly that passage could also undermine US national interests in which Turkey is a partner, not just bilateral relations with a NATO ally but also Turkey's cooperation on the Cyprus talks, the Nagorno-Karabakh process and Iraq," she said.
"I think it is very important that this resolution not go forward," she told the House International Relations Committee. "The resolution at this time is damaging.”
Earlier Wednesday, Turkey said it was working on counter-moves against the United States and Armenia if the bill, approved last week by a subcommittee is passed by the entire panel, sent to full House of Representatives and adopted.
"Against a possible negative outcome, naturally, we are contemplating measures and we are re-evaluating those previously outlined," foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Dirioz said.
He added that any action would be drawn up on a basis "that will not harm Turkey's national interests, will not play into the hands of Armenia and Armenian circles, and will take into account the special relationship between Ankara and Washington.”
Turkey categorically rejects claims of genocide, saying that thousands of Turks also died in what was internal fighting during the dissolution years of the Ottoman Empire.
Armenia maintains that up to 1.3 million of its people were massacred, while Turkey puts the figure at around 300,000.
Turkey does not maintain diplomatic relations with Armenia due to Yerevan's international campaign for the recognition of its genocide claims and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan, a close ally of Turkey -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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