The U.S. on Tuesday called for a complete and fair acknowledgement of the facts surrounding the 1915 events that took place in Turkey.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters: "The President and other senior Administration officials have repeatedly acknowledged as historical fact and mourned the fact that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, and stated that a full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests, including Turkey's, Armenia's, and America's."
"One of the principles, I think, that's guided the Administration's work in this area and in atrocity prevention more broadly is that nations are stronger and they progress by acknowledging and reckoning with pretty painful elements of their past; doing so is really essential to building a different, more tolerant future."
Meanwhile, a U.S. lawmaker plans to introduce a bill asking the administration of President Barack Obama to designate a task force to pursue the amelioration of sour relations between Turkey and Armenia based on the common interests of the two countries. The proposed bill was mentioned by its sponsor, Republican Congressman Curt Clawson, earlier this month. It represents a landmark step since it signifies the first concrete move that is not detrimental to Turkey regarding the 1915 incidents, ahead of its centennial commemoration.
It is the first time such a draft bill, which aims to be constructive for Turkish-Armenian relations, has been proposed. It is significant since it differs in language to the bill currently in committee, which "call[s] on the president to work toward equitable, constructive, stable and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey's full acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity." The new bill, which has yet to be introduced, has been prepared in deference to Turkey and its definition of the 1915 incidents, which has long been used as a means for the Armenian diaspora to generate political tension directed toward Turkey. The proposed bill has been stripped of any mention of the alleged Armenian genocide, highlighting its restraint from taking sides in a matter that has become overly politicized.
Turkish-Armenian relations have remained strained for decades due to Armenia's constant demand for Turkey, as well as other countries, to officially accept the mass forced deportations of Ottoman Armenians from Anatolia during World War I as genocide. The latest in a series of such demands from the U.S. government came when a bipartisan group of representatives introduced an Armenian lobby-backed Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution in mid-March. Republican Rep. Adam Schiff said that the draft resolution, if passed by Congress, would officially recognize the Armenian genocide and call upon Obama to work with the Turkish and Armenian governments to bring about reconciliation based on full acknowledgment of the historic fact of the 1915 incidents.
However, the Obama administration, which had pledged to acknowledge the incidents as genocide before he was elected, has refrained from doing so during his terms in office thus far so as not to create tension with Turkey, a close ally of the U.S.
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