Turkey recalled its new ambassador to the United States Namik Tan Thursday after the US House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a resolution that labels as genocide the killings of ethnic Armenians by Ottomon Turks following World War I.
The resolution, approved narrowly by the House Foreign Affairs Committee 23-22, calls the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians genocide.
The decision to recognize the historical event as genocide may seem like a minor event, but the issue is one of the most explosive in Washington. Turkey has a strong lobbying presence in Washington to defend them against the accusation of genocide, but the Armenian-American community has been passionate—and persistent—about getting official recognition from the United States government.
The issue has been a perennial one for activists on both sides, and both the Bush and Obama administrations have tried to quiet the Armenian push on this resolution because the U.S. has a critical military presence in Turkey.
The Turkish government said the resolution was filled with historic inaccuracies.
“This decision, which could adversely affect our cooperation on a wide common agenda with the United States, also regrettably attests to a lack of strategic vision,” the Turkish government said in a statement. “As a result of this development we recalled this evening our Ambassador Namik Tan to Ankara for consultations.”
The Obama administration is concerned that the decision could create more tension between the countries. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) this week to warn that the move would have international implications—but the committee went ahead anyway.
“We are concerned about its potential impact on our relations with the affected countries,” said Philip Crowley, a state department spokesman.Politico