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US ambassador to Turkey amplifies remarks on Armenia protocols

17 February 2010 [18:30] - TODAY.AZ
U.S. Ambassador to Ankara James Jeffrey on Wednesday amplified remarks made earlier in the week to Turkish deputies warning that the Armenian “genocide” bill would likely pass through the U.S. Congress in March unless the Turkish Parliament ratifies the normalization protocols.

The Hürriyet Daily News reported Jeffrey’s linkage of the issues in Wednesday’s newspaper and on its Web site. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara, however, said following the reports that Jeffrey did not specifically link the two issues.

“U.S. Ambassador to Ankara James Jeffrey told Turkish parliamentarians that the best way to deal with the genocide bill pending in the U.S. Congress is to continue the rapprochement process with Armenia. Citing remarks by President Obama in Ankara and the President’s April 24, 2009 statement on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, the Ambassador emphasized that the Turkey-Armenia protocols were important to resolving this historical issue,” read the embassy's statement.

Members of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission on Tuesday expressed their concern to Jeffrey, who earlier confirmed his full support of the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia.

The commission said it was concerned the pending resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives recognizing the 1915 events as “genocide” would destroy ongoing normalization talks. The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to discuss the related bill on March 4.

Asked before the meeting if the bill would harm the ongoing process between Yerevan and Ankara, Jeffrey replied: “We give full support for the [normalization] process between Turkey and Armenia. As President Obama noted in his speech at the Turkish Parliament, the best way is to continue this process. That’s why we send this message to both countries.”

Following the meeting, commission chairman Murat Mercan said, “We will do what is best for our country regardless of the outside effects.”

Onur Öymen, a deputy from the opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, noted the protocols would not be passed by Parliament unless Armenia withdraws from occupied Azerbaijani territories.

“The approval of the bill will harm Turkish-U.S. relations. There is disagreement on this issue between the deputies of the ruling and opposition parties,” Öymen said.

Jeffrey, however, said he would convey the concerns given by the parliamentarians to U.S. officials.

/Hurriyet Daily News/

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