Administration Abandons Bush’s ‘Attempted Genocide’ Statement
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The administration said Wednesday its opposition to a Senate proposal to mark the Turkish mass killing of Armenians earlier this century did not contradict President Bush’s campaign pledge to acknowledge the ″attempted genocide.″
″It isn’t causing me any trouble,″ State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said when asked about the apparent contradiction.
She said the administration hopes Congress ″can respond to the concerns of the Armenian people in a manner that does not gravely offend our vital ally and friend, the Republic of Turkey.″
The measure, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, would designate April 24, 1990, as a day to mark the ″Armenian genocide.″ It has angered Turkey because of its reference to ″genocide,″ which Turkey says falsely compares it with Nazi Germany.
Turkey claims hundreds of thousands of Armenians, not 1.5 million, died from war, famine and epidemics from 1915 to 1923.
In October 1988, Bush used the term ″attempted genocide″ in response to a questionnaire from an Armenian group.
″The United States must acknowledge the attempted genocide of the Armenian people in the last years of the Ottoman Empire based on the testimony of survivors, scholars, and indeed our own representatives at the time,″ he said.
Tutwiler said that despite the ″tragic suffering of the Armenian people and the need to commemorate the victims of the period 1915 to 1923, we are equally mindful of our close relationship and strong friendship with Turkey and of the differing views of how the terrible events of that period should properly be characterized.″
The resolution cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and has gone to the Senate floor.