In a stinging rebuke to Turkey and the Trump Administration, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, which also included language about the genocide against Greeks and other minorities.
The vote marks a shift in U.S. policy despite repeated objections from the Trump administration and the president himself, who has established a close relationship with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he said he admired a great deal and didn’t want to offend.
The Senate’s action is historic and will almost certainly exacerbate U.S.-Turkey tensions. The genocide measure officially recognizes the systematic killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923 and mentions other historical occurrences, including the genocide of the Greeks in Asia Minor.
“Whereas the United States has a proud history of recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide, the killing of an estimated 1,500,000 Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, and providing relief to the survivors of the campaign of genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites and other Christians.”
For decades, Turkey had deployed an army of lobbyists to stop the measure. Three Republican senators also blocked the House resolution, which had passed in a 405-to-11 vote on October 30.
But those efforts fell short on Thursday, when Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., pressed for its adoption and no senator objected.
The move amounted to a stern condemnation of Turkish President Erdogan, who has grown close to Trump in recent months and who criticized the October House resolution.
Moreover, the Senate advanced Turkish sanctions legislation, threatening to further disrupt the Trump-Erdogan love affair which has been called contrary to American interests.
Menendez broke down in tears afterward as he recounted the horrors of the genocide.
“America’s non-response to the Turkish horrors established patterns that would be repeated… we know all too well the horrors that would be repeated later in the 20th century with the Holocaust and other genocides around the world,” Menendez said. “Here in the Senate today, we break those patterns. We join the House who voted to do so… 405-11. Today the Senate shows the same resolve.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who worked closely with Menendez on the proposal, called its passage “an achievement for truth, an achievement for speaking the truth to darkness, for speaking the truth to evil.”
Featured image: Armenian Americans march in Los Angeles on April 24 during an annual commemoration of the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. (Credit / Damian Dovarganes, AP)
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