Moves in Congress?: Politicians, analysts view growing support for Genocide bill in US in light of Armenia-Turkey protocols

The news about seven more members of US Congress adding their support to the Armenian Genocide resolution has been construed differently by the political parties in Armenia divided over the current rapprochement with Turkey.

Last Friday, the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), an influential Washington-based Armenian lobbying group, announced that “since the protocols to establish diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey were announced in August, the Armenian Genocide resolution, H. Res. 252, has garnered an additional seven cosponsors, which brings the total number of supporters to 134.”

The Assembly was among several Diaspora organizations that voiced their support for the policy of normalizing ties with Turkey pursued by Armenia’s current administration and also welcomed the signing of the protocols as a positive development.

Critics of the protocols, both in Armenia and across its worldwide Diaspora, on the contrary, have argued that several key provisions in the protocols will halt the push for the international affirmation of World War I-era killings of more than 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide.

Giro Manoyan, director of the International Secretariat of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) Bureau in Yerevan, told ArmeniaNow that by this step the congressmen in fact have pronounced against the protocols.

And Armen Ayvazyan, director of the Ararat center for strategic research, says that this process in US Congress has been going on for three decades now.

“But there the legislature is not as important as the executive. The Armenian lobby clearly fails in its work with the executive authorities. They also should conduct work in the legal plain,” Ayvazyan tells ArmeniaNow.

AAA Congressional Relations Associate Bianka Dodov said the Assembly welcomes the support of Reps. Brian Bilbray (R-CA); Elton Gallegly (R-CA); Darrell Issa (R-CA); Steve Israel (D-NY); John Hall (D-NY); Laura Richardson (D-CA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA).
“We look forward to continuing to work with Congress on this important human rights initiative,” added AAA Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide should not be held hostage to normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey.”

Head of the Polit-economy research center Andranik Tevanyan compares the latest move by the seven US congressmen to cosponsor the resolution with a “swan song”.

“It will be all the same. The process of the international recognition of the genocide will stop after the signing of the protocols,” Tevanyan tells ArmeniaNow.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the pro-establishment Prosperous Armenia party positively evaluates this move.

“This proves that the signing of the Armenian-Turkish protocols has also served as an impetus for such a step,” says Prosperous Armenia’s Baghdasar Mheryan.

In a recent article the New York Times wrote about the support of AAA, along with other Diaspora Armenian organizations, for President Serzh Sargsyan’s effort to normalize ties with Turkey. The paper, at the same time, wrote that the organization continues to consider the international recognition of the Genocide as its main mission.

Meanwhile, according to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, democrat Robert Wexler, co-chair of the Turkish friendship group in the U.S. House of Representatives, has declared he will soon give up his mandate.

The Turkish paper speculates that the Turkish lobby will get weaker after the resignation of Wexler, who has been one of the staunchest opponents of the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress.