Four political parties in the Turkish Parliament (TBMM) on late Friday rejected and condemned a bill passed by the United States (U.S.) Senate, recognizing the killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey in the early 1900s as genocide.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), its election ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and the opposition Good Party (IYI) signed a joint parliamentary statement.
“We, as the TBMM, condemn regretfully and reject the US Senate’s approval of the resolution which recognized the so-called Armenian genocide claims by ignoring main international laws and by distorting historical facts,” the joint declaration read.
The US Senate unanimously approved the resolution on Thursday, officially recognizing the early 20th century killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923 as a genocide.
The US move, which was in defiance of both US President Donald Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came after the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday passed a bill for sanctions on Ankara in response to its recent acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system and offensive in northern Syria.
“This [recognition] is an only worthless act of historical interpretation based on arbitrary and provisional political interests. The TBMM reiterates that judging the historical events is not the parliaments’ job,” the statement added.
Ankara proposes the creation of an international commission, including historians from Turkey and Armenia, to investigate the incidents.
During an official visit to Washington in November, Erdogan repeated his call for historians to examine the issue.
“If the US side wants to act fairly, it should refrain from taking a political stand on a matter that historians should decide,” Erdogan said at the time.
The HDP also published a genocide-related statement, denying a report by Turkey’s state-owned news agency Anadolu (AA), which said the pro-Kurdish party was also among the signatories of the parliamentary declaration.
“We do not accept the decision [statement] taken by the four parties in the TBMM. We call for a confrontation with all genocides and sorrows that took place on those lands. We believe that the decisions of various countries’ parliaments cannot accomplish the confrontation with ‘the Great Tragedy.’ Neither the US Senate’s bill nor the TBMM-prepared statement serve for finding the truth and healing the wounds,” the HDP said.
The HDP also touched on the power struggles behind the genocide disputes, referring to the frictions between the two NATO allies over several issues, Turkey’s acquisition of Russian S-400 missile system and incursion into Syria against the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Recognition of the 1915 incidents as genocide had been stalled in the US Congress up until recently. Ankara had so far managed to use its leverage as an ally to stifle the genocide recognition by threatening consequences for bilateral relations.
On Friday, the Turkish foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador to Ankara, David Satterfield, over the Senate’s genocide resolution.
The US ambassador reportedly told the Turkish ministry that the stance of the White House had not changed regardless of the approved bill.
Trump favors negotiations with Erdogan in order not to exacerbate an already tense relationship with Turkey’s strongman instead of genocide recognition and imposing stiff sanctions on the country.
The US president had allegedly ordered three senators to oppose the measure in an attempt to block the vote in the Republican-led Senate.
During a memorial in April, Trump had called the Armenian killings a “Great Catastrophe,” refraining from using “genocide.”
A total of 31 countries and many international scholars recognize the incidents as genocide. Turkey, however, sees the brutal process as not genocide but massacres, referring to the tough times during World War I when the then Ottoman Empire was falling apart.