Dispute over commemorating Armenian genocide

WASHINGTON — Armenian genocide commemorations continue to attract political and diplomatic grief upon the arrival of another anniversary date.

On Capitol Hill, an Armenian genocide resolution lacks the votes needed for House or Senate passage. In downtown Washington, bitter lawsuits ensnare plans for an Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial. In the White House and on Embassy Row, the phrase "Armenian genocide" still confounds international relations.

"We always hear 'it's not the right time' to recognize genocide," said Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Today, President Barack Obama is expected to issue the White House's annual statement commemorating the tragic events of 1915-1923. The statement is typically pegged to April 24, considered the start of the Ottoman Empire's assault on Armenian leaders.

While campaigning, Obama endorsed use of the word "genocide." Last April, however, emulating other presidents, Obama studiously avoided the term in his 389-word statement.

Turkey considers the phrase "Armenian genocide" a gross insult, and the key NATO ally that borders both Iraq and Iran knows how to make its displeasure clear.

The Turkish ambassador to the United States only returned to Washington several weeks ago, after he was recalled to Ankara following a March 5 vote by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. By a 23-22 margin, the committee approved the latest version of an Armenian genocide resolution.

Dispute over commemorating Armenian genocide 04/23/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 24, 2010 12:35am]

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