Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Armenian Genocide...Turks threaten Israel & US

International Herald Tribune
Turkish foreign minister warns of break with U.S., Israel over WWI Armenian massacre

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 9, 2007

JERUSALEM: Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan warned that his country's relations with both the United States and Israel could be harmed if the U.S. Congress passes legislation declaring the World War I massacre of Armenians a genocide, according to an interview published Tuesday.

Babacan called on Israel to use its influence to stop the legislation. An Israeli official said Babacan expressed his concerns during a meeting with Israel's foreign minister.

Interviewed by the Jerusalem Post daily, Babacan said, "The perception in Turkey right now is that the Jewish people, or the Jewish organizations let's say, and the Armenian Diaspora, the Armenian lobbies, are now hand-in-hand trying to defame Turkey, and trying to condemn Turkey and the Turkish people."

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks during World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide, or planned extermination, of the 20th century. Turkey, however, denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying that the toll has been inflated and that those killed were the victims of civil war and unrest.

In August the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization known for combating Antisemitism, reversed its position on the issue and labeled the killings as "tantamount to genocide."

"If we see that Jewish organizations are deliberately and in a very comfortable way using then word genocide in a statement, this is a problem for us. This offends Turkey," Babacan told the paper.

Babacan, who arrived in Israel on Sunday, said Turkey "would be happy if the Israeli authorities" could pressure Congress to ensure "nothing goes wrong there."

"If something goes wrong in Washington, D.C., it inevitably will have some influence on relations between Turkey and the U.S., plus the relations between Turkey and Israel as well," he said.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Babacan raised the issue during his meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday. "We listened closely to his concerns, and we shared with him our position," Regev said, but refused to give details.

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