- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2000

Turkey threatened yesterday to block American planes from using its air bases to monitor Iraq if the House approves a resolution condemning Turkish genocide against Armenians 80 years ago.
Turkey admits massacres of Armenians took place then but says Turks were also massacred by Armenians. Turkey also says it was was not official policy and the Ottoman Empire then in power no longer exists.
The resolution commemorating the Armenian massacres of 1915-1923 is being pushed in Congress despite Turkish reaction because of politics.
Armenian-Americans form a large and vocal voting bloc in key races in California, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Public reaction in Turkey to the resolution, adopted by the House International Relations Committee this week and due to be debated by the full House shortly, has been fiery and anti-American.
Turkey's parliament and government said the key U.S. ally and NATO member will send a Turkish ambassador to Baghdad in a clear slap at U.S.-backed sanctions against Iraq.
The Turks also canceled a planned visit of their defense minister to Washington.
"If the House of Representatives approves the said resolution, the Turkish parliament will evaluate the extension of the mandate of Operation Northern Watch (ONW) in the light of changing circumstances," said a joint statement by the five political parties in the parliament yesterday.
ONW allows U.S. and British planes to be based in Turkey for flights over Iraq to enforce no-fly zones.
The Turkish Cabinet "has agreed that the parliament's statement is absolutely appropriate and gives its full support to it," State Minister Rustu Kazim Yucelen told reporters.
News reports from Turkey said the government will review the entire Cooperation in Defense agreement with the United States and adopt a negative attitude toward all U.S.-Turkish military relations and energy agreements.
One source said Turkey may decide to open an oil pipeline from Iraq to the Mediterranean that has been closed since the Gulf war.
The State Department warned Tuesday that the Armenia genocide resolution could cause serious damage to relations with the key ally bordering Iran, Iraq, Syria and the former Soviet Union.
"President Clinton reiterated his opposition to this resolution in a phone call with Turkey's president, [Ahmet Necdet] Sezer," the State Department said.
Turkey Ambassador Baki Ilkin said yesterday that "the so-called genocide is not a so-called one-way genocide but unfortunately a two-way tragedy."
"The Ottomans were fighting the Russians on the Caucasian front in 1915, and to destabilize the Ottoman army the Russians provoked Armenians living in the eastern part of Anatolia to rise up and seek independence."
In addition, many Armenians lost their lives due to hunger and disease, he said.
Armenians and many historians say that attacks on civilian Armenians were far more methodical than described by Mr. Ilkin and that hundreds of thousands were slaughtered, burned or driven into deserts to certain death.
Mr. Ilkin also blamed the current resolution on Armenia's government that has "provoked its compatriots throughout the world and whenever there is an Armenian community they have been asked to raise the issue of so-called genocide."

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