October 31, 2019 - 12:25 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The New York Times has published an article by Patrick Kingsley in which the author claims that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s reaction to the House of Representatives’ decision to recognize the Armenian Genocide is a measure of how low American-Turkish relations have sunk in recent weeks
In a speech in Ankara, Erdogan said American lawmakers had “no right to give lessons to Turkey.” While the American ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, was summoned by the Turkish government to explain the House’s resolution, the Turkish ambassador to Washington was not recalled home. And Erdogan devoted most of his speech to the Turkish incursion in northern Syria.
“It was kind of muted in response,” said Sibel Oktay, an expert on Turkish politics at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “Erdogan seems to basically ignore it, or not take it seriously.”
For years, American lawmakers avoided officially describing as a Genocide the 1915 killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, the precursor to the Republic of Turkey.
American politicians have historically been wary of angering Turkey, a NATO ally that has never acknowledged the full extent of the massacres — and has emphatically denied that what happened was genocide. Erdogan usually refers only to “deportations” and “events,” which he once said were “reasonable” for the period.
“The House’s decision on Tuesday, October 29, by a 405-to-11 vote, to reverse its decades-old stance reflects how American-Turkish ties have spiraled down in recent years — as seen in Erdogan’s response,” Kingsley says.
“Relations were already strained by Turkey’s decision to buy an antimissile system from Russia instead of the United States; the incarceration of an American pastor in Turkey; and the jailing of a Turkish banker in America.
“The United States also has refused to deport Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania whom Mr. Erdogan has accused of plotting a coup attempt in 2016.”
And then, earlier this month, came the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria, against Kurdish-led forces that had partnered with the United States military in fighting the Islamic State. When President Trump warned Erdogan in a letter that the United States would destroy the Turkish economy if Erdogan’s forces did not behave in “the right and humane way” in Syria, the Turkish leader discarded the letter — some Turkish news reports suggested he threw it in the trash — and said “we will not forget this lack of respect.”
American-Turkish relations have been further strained by the recent indictment in New York of a Turkish state-owned bank that American prosecutors accuse of helping Iran to circumvent United States sanctions. Erdogan is himself accused in the court documents of involvement in the scheme.
Responding to the House’s decision, Erdogan said: “We do not recognize this step, this decision you have taken.”
“The countries who have stains of genocide, slavery, colonialism in their history have no right to give lessons to Turkey,” Erdogan added.
“While Erdogan regarded the House’s decision as an affront, it may have helped him politically, bolstering the Turkish leader’s strategy of presenting himself to voters as Turkey’s only effective bulwark against foreign attacks,” the article says.