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    Obama not expected to recognize Armenian claims after joint statement

    by Umit Enginsoy
    23.04.2009 - 11:50 | Son Güncelleme:

    WASHINGTON – A joint announcement that Turkey and Armenia had agreed on a road map to normalize relations was released just two days before U.S. President Barack Obama's expected statement on April 24, the day to commemorate the 1915 incidents.

     Armenians in the United States urge both the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government to recognize their claims regarding the 1915 incidents.

     

    Turkey warns that any formal U.S. genocide recognition will kill the reconciliation process with Armenia and hurt ties with the United States in a major and lasting way.

     

    During last year's election campaign, Obama pledged to recognize the so-called "Armenian genocide," but during a visit to Turkey earlier this month, he said the key priority for the United States was not to derail the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation though his views on the issue had not changed.

     

    As a result, many analysts here do not expect Obama to recognize the Armenian killings as genocide in his statement Friday.

     

    The United States primarily wants Turkey to open its land border with Armenia, closed since 1993.

     

    Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915.

     

    Turkey rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians, along with at least as many Turks, died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms, backed by Russia, for independence in eastern Anatolia.

     

    Turkey has offered to form a joint commission to investigate what happened in 1915 and has opened all official archives, but Armenia has not yet accepted the offer.

     

    ARMENIAN EFFORTS UNDER WAY

    Meanwhile, more than a dozen U.S. lawmakers extended their support to the U.S. Armenian position at a meeting held in Congress "to commemorate the Armenian genocide" late Wednesday.

     

    The event was hosted by lawmakers Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, co-chairs of the Armenian Caucus in the House of Representatives.

     

    The grand prize for the Armenians was the presence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, who reiterated her support for the Armenian cause.

     

    U.S. Armenian leaders said they were continuing to urge Obama to qualify the 1915 incidents as "genocide."

     

    Brian Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America, said opening the border and normalizing ties between Turkey and Armenia "should not be held hostage to U.S. affirmation of the Armenian genocide."

     

    Ken Hachikian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Armenia, said U.S. genocide recognition "is within our grasp. Justice won't be far behind."

     

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