- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide which Turkey has long condemned, marking a potentially significant pivot in U.S. policy.

The move is likely to escalate tensions between Washington and Ankara, a relationship that has been repeatedly tested this year in the wake of Turkey’s purchase of a Russian defense system and the Turkish-led military incursion against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northeast Syria. The Senate just a day earlier had advanced separate legislation to enforce economic sanctions on Turkey that also brought an angry response from Ankara.

“This journey has been a long journey,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican.

SEE ALSO: Turkey protests U.S. Senate vote recognizing Armenian genocide

He described the resolution, which was passed by unanimous consent, as “an achievement for truth … for speaking the truth to evil, for speaking the truth to murder, for speaking the truth to genocide.”

Mr. Cruz co-sponsored the resolution with Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, who has pushed for the legislation to be introduced on the Senate floor four prior times. Each time, a Republican lawmaker, acting reportedly at the behest of the White House, objected to its passage.

“This is the third week in a row we have come to the Senate floor seeking to pass this resolution, and I’m grateful that today we have succeeded,” Mr. Cruz added. “This is a moment of truth that was far too long coming.”

Turkey has long insisted that the Ottoman Empire’s deportation of the Armenians from Anatolia to Syria in 1915 did not constitute genocide, and quickly declared the resolution a “disrespect to our sovereign decisions about our national security.”

“The recent attempts carried out with domestic political calculations in both wings of the Congress, which have also been supported by the circles against Turkey, are a new [sign] of disrespect to our sovereign decisions about our national security,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The resolution expresses “official recognition and remembrance” of the approximately 1.5 million Armenians who the Ottoman Empire killed during World War I.

Earlier this year the House passed an identical measure on a 405-11 vote that led Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to threaten to cancel a November trip to the White House.

Mr. Menendez, who serves as the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, grew emotional in a speech on the Senate floor following the resolution’s passage.

“To overlook human suffering is not who we are as a people. It is not what we stand for as a nation,” he said. “We are better than that, and our foreign policy should always reflect this.”

The passage was met with immediate praise by Armenian American groups and by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who called the approval “a victory of justice and truth.”

“On behalf of the Armenian people worldwide, I express our profound appreciation to the Senate for this landmark legislation,” he tweeted.

The Armenian National Committee of America called on the White House to express equal recognition for the sufferings of Armenians and end “any and all American complicity in Ankara’s lies.”

“Today’s unanimous Senate action shines a spotlight on the president, who continues — against all reason — to enforce Erdogan’s veto against honest American remembrance of Turkey’s extermination and exile of millions of Christians,” said Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “It’s time for the executive branch to join Congress.”

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