|WASHINGTON - The landslide election victory of Barack Obama, a backer of Armenian causes, will diminish Turkey's ability to prevent a formal U.S. recognition of "Armenian genocide" claims, the largest U.S. Armenian group said Wednesday.
"Starting tomorrow, the full force of the Turkish government will come down like a ton of bricks on Washington," Ken Hachikian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee, said in a written statement to the U.S. Armenian Community shortly after the election of Obama, the Democratic contender, as the next president. Obama will take office Jan. 20.
Hachikian congratulated Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, saying, "We endorsed Obama in January when he was fighting an uphill battle for his party's nomination and worked for him right through to tonight. We simplycould not afford another four years of the same, hostile anti-Armenian policies."
When a resolution calling for official U.S. recognition of 1915 incidents as genocide came close to a floor vote at the U.S. House of Representatives in October 2007, Turkey warned the legislation's passage would seriously harm the close U.S.-Turkish relationship in a lasting way.
Efforts by the administration of President George W. Bush, a Republican, eventually prompted the House leadership to shelve the resolution.
But Obama, during his election campaign, has pledged to recognize the killings as genocide.
Barack Obama told U.S Armenians last Friday he strongly supported the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution (pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate) and would recognize the Armenian genocide. A pledge he first voiced in January.
Most analysts here say if Obama keeps his promise, he will cause the first U.S.-Turkish crisis during the next Washington administration's term.
"We are almost there. The new president-elect supported Armenian issues in the Senate, has pledged, if elected, to recognize the Armenian genocide and picked a running mate with a 35-year pro-Armenian track record," Hachikian said.
"We are close to the day when an American president finally ends nearly a century of U.S. complicity in Turkey's denials."
The Armenian Assembly of America, the second largest U.S. Armenian group, also congratulated Obama on his election.