House Committee on Foreign Affairs Discusses U.S. Foreign Policy and Armenian Genocide
REP. TOM LANTOS, D-CALIF. CHAIRMAN: Pursuant to notice, I call up the bill H. Res. 106, calling upon the president to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian genocide and for other purposes, for purposes of markup.
Without objection, the resolution is considered as read, and I yield myself such time as I might consume.
Today we are not considering whether the Armenian people were persecuted and died in huge numbers at the hands of Ottoman troops in the early 20th century.There is unanimity in the Congress and across the country that these atrocities took place.
If the resolution before us stated that fact alone, it would pass unanimously.
The controversy lies in whether to make it United States policy at this moment in history to apply a single word, genocide, to encompass this enormous blot on human history.
The United Nations Convention on Genocide defines the term as a number of actions, and I quote, committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, end quote.
LANTOS:These actions include killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part.
Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time of the atrocities, wrote, and I'm quoting, I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this.The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915, end quote.
The leadership of the United States has been in universal agreement in condemning the atrocities but has been divided about using the term genocide.
On one occasion, President Ronald Reagan referred to, I quote, the genocide of the Armenians.
But subsequent presidents George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have refrained from using the word, out of deference to Turkish sentiments on the matter.
In recognizing this tragedy, some in Congress have seen common themes with the debate our committee held earlier this year on a resolution about another historic injustice, the tens of thousands of so-called comfort women forced into sexual slavery by imperial Japan.
LANTOS:The current Japanese government went to great lengths to attempt to prevent debate on that matter and dire predictions were made that passage of such a resolution would harm U.S.-Japan relations.Those dire consequences never materialized.
A key feature distinguishing today's debate from the one on the comfort women resolution is that U.S. troops are currently engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.Our troops depend on a major Turkish air base for access to the fighting fronts, and it serves as a critical part of the supply lines to those fronts.
A growing majority in Congress -- and I am among them -- strongly oppose continued U.S. troop involvement in the civil war in Iraq.But none of us wants to see those supply lines threatened or abruptly cut.
All eight living former secretaries of state recently cautioned Congress on this matter, and I quote, It is our view, write Former Secretaries Albright, Baker, Christopher, Eagleburger, Haig, Kissinger, Powell and Shultz, that passage of this resolution could endanger our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey, end quote.
LANTOS:Three former secretaries of defense, Carlucci, Cohen and Perry, this week advised Congress that passage of this resolution, and I quote again, would have a direct detrimental effect on the operational capabilities, safety and well-being of our armed forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan, end quote.
Members of this committee have a sobering choice to make.We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people and to condemn this historic nightmare through the use of the word genocide against that -- the risk that it -- it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an even heavier price than they are currently paying.This is a vote of conscience and the committee will work its will.
I understand that the distinguished ranking Republican member, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, may not wish to make an opening statement.
I'm delighted to yield to my friend and colleague...
ROS-LEHTINEN:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
LANTOS:... from Florida.
ROS-LEHTINEN:Because I know that so many members wish to make opening statements and we have competing committee responsibilities, I was not going to make an opening statement.But I know that this a -- such a serious issue for so many.And I want to thank you for yielding me the time.
ROS-LEHTINEN:And certainly the death of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the officials of the Ottoman Empire is a dark and horrific chapter in our human history.
This committee's consideration of House Resolution 106, affirmation of the United States record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, is a very serious matter, particular at this time, Mr. Chairman.
This is a difficult issue, as you pointed out in your opening statement, and one where we must carefully evaluate a number of factors, including our commitment to justice and historical facts, the best strategy to advance reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey, as well as security -- security interests that are so critical to the United States.
As we discuss the resolution before us today, it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to carefully consider all of the factors and the possible implications involved in moving forward with this particular resolution at this particular time in the war that we are engaged in against Islamic extremists.
I will vote against the resolution because of the damage to our capabilities in Iraq and in Afghanistan, where my daughter-in-law is serving as a United States military officer.It could damage our operations against Islamic extremists, and our counternarcotics efforts in South Asia and Central Asia.
And to ensure that all of our members have ample opportunities to express their support, Mr. Chairman, or raise concern about this measure, I will yield back the balance of my time.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
LANTOS:Thank you very much.
It is the intention of the chair that all members who wish to speak on this resolution will be recognized for five minutes.
LANTOS:I now recognize one of the original co-sponsors of H.Res. 106, the gentleman from California, Mr. Sherman, for five minutes to explain the resolution.
SHERMAN:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.And thank you for your outstanding review of history.
My colleagues, we are here again considering an Armenian genocide resolution.Our committee has done this three times in the last decade.And once the Judiciary Committee dealt with a resolution crafted to meet its jurisdiction.
We have never had a vote on the floor.And there are those that say that every time we discuss this resolution in committee, it's an irritant to our relationship with Turkey.
That's the best reason to vote for it here and on the floor.
Let us do this and be done with it.We will get a few angry words out of Ankara for a few days, and then it's over.And I promise that the proponents of this resolution will not be back with another resolution after the House recognizes the Armenian Genocide.
In contrast, if we vote down this resolution today, the some 225- plus co-sponsors will be back next year and the year after.
If this irritates our relationship with Turkey, let's stop the irritation by recognizing the truth.
Two years ago, we dealt with an identical resolution.The history is the same.The words of the resolution are exactly the same.The geopolitical situation is the same.Turkey has the same border with Iraq that it had two years ago.
This committee rule is the same, which is to speak truth on human rights abuses, even when our friends object.And we proved that again with regard to those called comfort women, which the chairman referred to.
Only one thing has changed, and that is a ferocious lobbying effort has been brought to this committee.
Two years ago, we passed this exact same resolution 40-7.And we ought to have a similar vote here today.
What happened in 1915 to 1923:The population of Armenians in the area now encompassed by Turkey was some 2 million.Eight years later, it was virtually zero.
Our ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which the chairman quoted, said it clearly when he said, When the authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race.They understood this well, and in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal that fact.
Or we can turn to Mustapha Arif, the last minister of the interior of the Ottoman Empire, speaking just after World War I and reflecting on the recent actions of his own government.He said: Our wartime leaders decided to exterminate the Armenians, and they did exterminate them.
SHERMAN:This clearly meets the United Nations definition and every other definition of genocide.And in fact the human rights attorney who coined the word genocide applied it directly to the Armenian Genocide.
It is right for Congress to recognize this genocide.We must do it.Genocide denial is not just the last step of a genocide, it is the first step in the next genocide.
When Hitler had to convince his cohorts that the world would let them get away with it, he turned to them and said, Who today speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?
Opponents say that Turkey will be angry if we pass this resolution.Japan lobbied against a resolution the chairman referred to.
This committee has passed resolutions criticizing such great allies as England and Canada.
But let me give you a hypothetical.Say there's new regime in Germany with a different view of world history that demands that we tear down the Holocaust Museum.Who would go to the floor and say, We need Ramstad (sic) Air Force Base in Germany; let's tear down the Holocaust Museum ?
We cannot provide genocide denial as one of the perks of friendship with the United States.
We are told that if we pass this resolution, Turkey will react. Turkey's longstanding practice is to try to win through accommodation, but every time a resolution is passed, they then get on with it.
Despite threats of harsh retribution, Turkey has either taken no steps or only token diplomatic steps against so many nations that have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Argentina.
SHERMAN:Some 40 United States states have recognized the Armenian Genocide and trade between those individual states and Turkey has blossomed, including my own state of California.
The best example is the big battle in the French parliament.In 2001, Turkey threatened France with a boycott of French goods.The result:France passed the genocide resolution and Turkey's imports from France skyrocketed, tripled as shown in this chart, in just a few years.In addition, Turkey's bilateral trade increased significantly...
LANTOS:The gentleman's time has expired.
SHERMAN:... with so many other countries that have adopted the Armenia genocide resolution.
LANTOS:I recognize the gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Smith.
C. SMITH:Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, in September of 2000, I chaired a hearing on the Armenian Genocide resolution H.Res. 398 that had been introduced by Mr. Radanovich, Mr. Bonier and Mr. Rogan.
It was the first hearing this House has ever held on the Armenian Genocide.Great lengths and great pains were taken to be accurate, to provide information that could be proven on the record.And yet there was a major effort undertaken not even to have the hearing at all.
The resolution, as I think all of us know, never made it to the floor.In that case, the Clinton White House had weighed in and they blocked it.
The issues behind the resolution today is whether any government denies -- that denies a genocide -- whether or not Congress has a responsibility to insist that our government at least -- at the very least, acknowledge it.Mr. Chairman, I believe that we do.
In 1915, there were about 2 million Armenians living in what was then the Ottoman Empire.They were living in a region that they had inhabited for 2,500 years.By 1923, well over 90 percent of these Armenians had disappeared, most of them, as many as 1.5 million, were dead.
C. SMITH:The remainder had been forced into exile.
The government of the empire, whose leaders were members of the movement known as the Young Turks, called this campaign against the Armenians a mass deportation, rather than the mass murder that it was. And the United States ambassador to Turkey at the time, Henry Morgenthau, called it a campaign of race extermination.
The British, French and Russian governments accused the Young Turk government of crimes against humanity:the first time in history that that charge had ever been made by one state against another.
After World War I, the term genocide didn't exist, but the whole world understood what had been done to the Armenians and who had done it.
The government of Turkey tried and convicted a number of high- ranking Young Turk officials for their role in the Turkish government's indictment and what they called the massacre and destruction of the Armenians.
Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, memories fade and later generations chose another course.Now there are many who deny that the Armenian Genocide ever happened.
Today, in Turkey -- and I would ask members to look at the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the State Department chronicling of abuse.There is one journalist, one novelist after another who was indicted in Turkey for simply talking about the ArmenianGenocide.
Hopefully, members will not be deterred from voting for this resolution.
There are members now and -- or people in Turkey who say that what happened happened during war time, or was the fault of both sides, or that the Armenians sympathized with the enemies of the Ottoman Empire, or that the atrocities were the random acts of a few people not authorized by the central government.
Yet after World War I, the Turkish government's indictment said that the destruction of the Armenians was, quote, the result of the decision making of the central committee. In other words, it was planned, it was premeditated and they carried it out with terrible and horrific consequences.
The sad truth is that the modern government of Turkey refuses to come to terms with this genocide.The Turkish government consistently and aggressively refuses to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
For Armenians everywhere, the Turkish government's denial is yet another slap in the face.It is this denial that keeps the Armenian Genocide a burning issue.
Even in our own country, a conspiracy of obfuscation and expediency tries to muffle any acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide.Whenever the issues threatens to surface in Congress, there's a full court press to try to stop it from coming to the floor.
I would note here that members of the House, Democrats and Republicans, are friends of Turkey.I consider myself a friend of Turkey.
But friends don't let friends commit crimes against humanity -- genocide -- and then act as witting or unwitting accomplices in their denial after they have committed.
I recall to you that in judging the post-World War I case against the prime movers of this genocide, the Turkish president of the court stated, and I quote, Perpetration of such atrocities is not only incompatible with Ottoman laws and the constitution, but also is contrary to the dictates of our Muslim faith.
C. SMITH:I admire him for saying this.He said this for the good of Turkey and his words were patriotic.
Today in Turkey those kind of words would get you indicted and perhaps prosecuted and thrown into prison.
Before he launched the Holocaust, as my friend Mr. Sherman said a moment ago, Adolf Hitler sneered and he said, Who today remembers the Armenians?
I recently visited Srebrenica, Mr. Chairman, during the July break, and like you, and like members on both sides of the aisle, are very sorry that there are genocides that have occurred in the 20th century like Rwanda, Darfur, which is ongoing, Bosnia, Srebrenica. Eight thousand Bosnians were killed there.
LANTOS:Gentleman's time has expired.
C. SMITH:I would ask, Mr. Chairman, that members realize -- or vote for this resolution.And we need to tell our friends in Turkey, in Ankara, that we speak truth to power.
Yield back the balance.
LANTOS:I'm pleased to call on the gentleman from New York, Mr. Ackerman.
ACKERMAN:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would first like to recognize four people who have joined us today.Two of them are from my district, from the Armenian Home in Flushing, New York.
Peruse Delushdian (ph).She was born in 1909, Harput, Turkey, and is 98 years old.
Onorik Eminian, who was born in 1912 in Izmir, Turkey, and is 95.
Yretskreen Sherapi Koyan (ph), who was born in Istanbul, Turkey.
Ashgoy Jellian Basilian (ph), who was born in Ofra (ph), Turkey, who is 93 years old, and is from Mr. Pallone's district, who is with us today.
As their age would indicate, each is an Armenian survivor who have longed to be someplace like this, on this day.
ACKERMAN:I'd ask them just to raise their hands, because I won't ask them to stand.
Mr. Chairman, this is a very agonizing issue.And it's made as agonizing as it is by your very fair summary of the history and the equities.
Because there are equities on either side that one might choose to vote.And I'm sure we've all given this a lot of thought, and we've come to different conclusions.
This has been tough for me.I'm a big fan and supporter of Turkey.Turkey, as you point out, is a very important ally, plays a very important geopolitical role, plays a role in the war against terror, is with us at a time when timing is very, very important, and when so much is at stake.
They are a -- possibly the best example in the world in which they live of the things that we would like to see countries begin to become.
And yet there is equity on the other side as well.
We've indeed been told the timing is bad.In all the years that I've been here, the timing was always bad, and I can't think of a time when the timing is not going to be bad.But the timing was bad for the Armenian people in 1915, and nothing is going to change that either.
The real question is a word, the word genocide. You've defined it as the U.N. has defined it, Mr. Chairman.And I suppose that's the legal definition that we -- that we stand by.
ACKERMAN:I just don't know how much of a people has to be destroyed before that word can really be applied.Is there a percentage?If another thousand Armenians were murdered, would it then have been a genocide?Maybe 10,000 more?
Our friends in Turkey have to understand that they can get beyond this.And I know how emotional an issue this is with them.Hard for us to understand, but we try.
We've gotten beyond the idea that we were fairly genocidal with the Native Americans, as we chased them across our movie screens.
We have to understand, and Turkey has to understand as well, that Turkey is no more the Ottoman Empire than today's Germany is the Third Reich.We've gotten beyond that with the understanding and admission of things that we've done that are wrong.And we are then empowered, freed and enabled to move on, as others have in the world.
This is as much a disenabling fact in the history of Turkey and before them the Ottoman Empire than anything else.And I think that full confronting of this issue by our Turkish friends will certainly enable them to move forward.
We've heard some people say that this would be very damaging to our efforts that are under way today.
LANTOS:The gentleman's time has expired.
ACKERMAN:More damaging than anything else, I believe, Mr. Chairman, would be the damage done by us denying the truth.
LANTOS:I call on the gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Burton.
BURTON:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
You know, we have a lot of resolutions that come before this committee.Some are important and some are not so important, but we debate those.But I can't remember an issue that's more important than the one we're taking about today.
In my opinion, stability in the entire Middle East could be at risk.
There's no question that thousands and thousands of people were killed during the time period we're talking about.That was over 90 years ago.And right now there's a conflict in Afghanistan, there's a conflict in Iraq, there's a conflict that's going on -- off and on in Lebanon and the West Bank.All over that area it's a tinderbox.And right next door, we've got Iran who's trying to develop a nuclear capability.And our strongest ally in the area -- the strongest ally in the area, and has been for 50 years, is Turkey.And I just don't understand why we're going to cut our nose off, shoot ourselves in the foot at a time that we need this ally.
War is hell.War is terrible.And I feel awful about these things that happened.I think everybody does.But the problem is why are we doing this at this particular time.
I've heard the arguments on the other side, well, they'll bring it up again and again.That's all right.They have the right to do that.
But we're in the middle of two wars right now and the possibility of a nuclear exchange down the road if we aren't careful, and the problems that are going on in Israel and Lebanon.
BURTON:The French national assembly passed a bill criminalizing denial of theArmenian Genocide, and Turkey severed all bilateral military and defense ties with France.
What would happen if that happened to us?
Seventy-five to 80 percent of the war materials going into Iraq go through Turkey -- Incirlik, that base.What if they cut us off there?How are we going to get supplies in to our military?
We've got thousands of -- over 100,000 -- 130,000 men there, and women there.And yet we know right now that that is at risk if we pass this resolution.
Now the Turkish government and the Armenian government have been pursuing some kind of reconciliation for a long time and -- right now, including even the normalization of relations.
The government of Turkey has made written and verbal offers to set up a commission outside both governments to look into the facts of what happened during this period and to come up with a resolution of it that's factual based upon history, not something that's an emotion thing that we're dealing with year in and year out in this chamber and in this room.
Four-fifths of the Turks, 80 percent, have said they would oppose helping the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan if this kind of resolution passes.
The government of Turkey has already kicked France out.We're in the middle of two wars and we've got troops over there that are at risk.And we're talking about kicking the one ally that's helping us over there in the face right now.
BURTON:It just doesn't make any sense to me.
Nine secretaries of state -- the past nine, Democrats and Republicans -- have said this is crazy.Our secretaries of defense have contacted us, both Democrats and Republicans, and said this is crazy.
And it is.
I understand the emotionalism.I understand the tragedy that occurred.I feel very bad about these ladies who are here today and these gentlemen who are here today who lived through part of that. It's regrettable -- horrible -- that that happened.
And I believe this ought to all be put in the historical way, so that everybody can understand it.
And that's why I think this commission, with both countries being involved in it, appointing people outside the government to look into the historical facts, should be established, and we should see this come to an end.
But to come to an end like this right now jeopardizes the security of our interests -- our interests -- in the Middle East.
We get a tremendous amount of our oil from the Middle East and, if that area blows up because we don't handle this right, we're going to really rue that day.And it could lead to a war that's much, much wider than we've seen so far.
This is not the time, this is not the way to do this right now. And I hope my colleagues will rethink this before this vote comes up, because it's not just this resolution...
BURTON:... it's the security of the Middle East that's at stake.
LANTOS:The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from American Samoa, Mr. Faleomavaega?
FALEOMAVAEGA:Mr. Chairman, no doubt just about every member of this committee has had an opportunity not only to review carefully the provisions of House Resolution 106, but to listen, also, to those who advocate passage of the bill and others who strongly believe that approval of this legislation will seriously put to question our longstanding relationship with the government of Turkey.
The issue of the Armenian genocide is not new to this committee, and I want to commend my colleague and former member of this committee for his authorship of this bill, the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff, and some 225 of our colleagues who have signed on as cosponsors of this legislation.
FALEOMAVAEGA:It's my understanding that many of Mr. Smith's constituents are fellow Americans who are of Armenian ancestry.And I suspect the hundreds of thousands of American -- Armenian Americans who are descendants of some 1.5 million Armenians who were displaced and killed during the time when the Ottoman Empire was breaking apart at the beginning of the first World War and years after.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, the government of Turkey is very much opposed to this legislation, and so is President Bush and all the top officials of this administration.
I do want to note for the record, Mr. Chairman, that for the past 60 years, our country has not had a better friend and ally than the people and leaders of Turkey.
In my opinion, Turkey, as a committed member of our NATO alliance during the Cold War era, played a critical and most pivotal role in containing communism and limited Soviet influence in this important region of the world.
Yet, even today, our current efforts to stabilize the crisis in Iraq would not -- would have been worse had it not been for the assistance that we're getting from Turkey.
It is without question that there is tremendous controversy as to whether there was a genocide committed by officials of the Ottoman Empire against the people of Armenia.And, obviously, it depends on who you talk to.
Some have suggested that, perhaps, some kind of a bilateral or a multilateral international commission be established to conduct a comprehensive review of all the available documents and data to determine of the facts.Others suggest that maybe if you brought before an internal -- an international tribunal or court of justice to review this matter.Some have argued, Why now?
This is during the time when the Ottoman Empire was breaking apart.The government of Turkey, today, had nothing to do with what happened some 60 or 80 years ago.This is certainly true.But our own country is not without blemish.
We can talk about the treatment of the indigenous Native Americans, the moral issue of slavery and the civil and voting rights of our African Americans, or the massive displacement of some 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II, or the illegal or unlawful overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii ruled by Queen Lili'uokalani.
FALEOMAVAEGA:I submit, Mr. Chairman, our government took appropriate action to official apologize for what we did to our fellow Americans who happened to be of Japanese ancestry and even to those who happened to be of Hawaiian ancestry.
Someone once said, Mr. Chairman, The greatness of a nation is not necessarily measured by its accomplishments but by its abilities to honestly face its mistakes in the past, and then take appropriate action to correct them.
Mr. Chairman, most recently, our committee in the House also passed a resolution asking Japan to officially apologize and recognize the brutal treatment of some 200,000 women from Asia and the Pacific; women who were abducted, kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by the military forces of the Imperial Army of Japan during World War II.
It is only fair that we also recognize what happened to the 1.5 million Armenians who were systematically tortured and killed during the days of the Ottoman Empire.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I support this resolution.I respectfully ask my colleagues to do the same.
LANTOS:Thank you.And before recognizing my next colleague, let me state for the record that it is the intention of the chair irrespective of the outcome of the vote on this resolution at the next markup to bring up a resolution of friendship with the Republic of Turkey.
I now call on gentleman from California, Mr. Rohrabacher.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER, R-CALIF.:Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.And I want to thank you and the ranking minority member for providing us, I would say, a very, very thoughtful look at this issue and it takes that.
Every year, all of us are barraged by lobbyists, retired members of Congress, Turkish politicians and citizen groups about this resolution.
ROHRABACHER:I always urge the Turks who come to see me, I always urge them to apologize.After all, we are talking about huge numbers of civilians who were slaughtered by the Turkish army, and there's no question about that.There's no debate about that fact. Huge numbers of civilians were slaughtered.
I also point out when people come to talk to me about this issue that the Armenians also were killing civilians at that time.The killing of innocents didn't just happen on the Turkish side, but there is no doubt that the Turks were in control of the situation and that the slaughter of Armenians was overwhelming.
The right message to both the Turks and the Armenians today is move on and put the past behind you.After all, what we're talking about is the Ottoman Empire and not the current government of Turkey.
And the current government of Turkey is not accused of any of the crimes that we are discussing today.No one on either side had -- who had any responsibility for that crisis and for the crimes that we're talking about, no one, not one of them is alive today.
Nevertheless, this issue emerges every year.What makes this year different than the other times that we've faced this resolution, this year this issue, if it passes through this committee, may well go to the floor.
Also, this year, there's something else that I think has at least affected my decision making, and that is the audacity that some Turks have had during this debate to threaten to cut logistics support of U.S. troops in Iraq.
ROHRABACHER:Isn't it enough that hundreds of our servicemembers may have died due to Turkish refusal to permit the 4th Infantry Division to transit through Turkey and enter Iraq at the beginning of the Iraq conflict?
Isn't that enough?
Isn't it enough that, year after year, the U.S. raises its voice for Turkey's application into the E.U. much to the chagrin of some of our friends in Europe?
Year after year, we actively encourage democracy and free elections in that country.Year after year, we do everything we can to urge the military in Turkey to stay out of politics and remain in their barracks.
And perhaps -- perhaps, you know, if we have to bend over backwards in continually doing favors and continually -- and ignore the truth, well, maybe Turkey isn't ready for E.U. membership, if it demands that we base relationships on denying the truth.
Perhaps they are not as good as friends of the United States as they profess, if they are going to threaten to cut off American military troops, after they already committed an action that cost our lives of our soldiers.
The Germans apologized to the Jews.The Japanese apologized to the Koreans, the Chinese and the Filipinos.
And, of course, the Chinese Communists have never apologized to anybody for the slaughter that they've had.
ROHRABACHER:Well, why on Earth should we encourage our friends like Turkey to mimic the dictators in Beijing, rather than those countries that have turned democratic and tried to realize that you build a future based on truth?
Turkey needs to act responsibly.Both the Armenians and the Turks need to close the chapter in this book.
I urge my colleagues to support this resolution, to close the chapter.
And let's get on with it and build a better world.
LANTOS:The gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Payne?
PAYNE:Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for calling this very important hearing.And let me say that the history and the facts are clear.I don't think that this question before us today has to do with genocide or not.
The people that I hear who oppose this resolution are not questioning whether genocide occurred; that's clear.And of the 800- year Ottoman Empire and the new emergence of what in 1915 was really the young Turks taking over, so it was sort of cessation of the old Ottoman Empire and into the new leadership of Turkey.
That genocide did occur.I don't think that anyone would deny it.
Because even though -- it was in '48 when the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes of Genocide defined genocide.Genocide means the killing of members of a group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of a group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in part or whole, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group, genocide did occur.
There's no question about it.
PAYNE:As a matter of fact, Adolf Hitler said in 1939 -- we all know that, when he ordered his troops into Poland, he said, Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians? , because no one spoke out then.
And if we continue to deny that it happened, we are denying history.And I think that the question has always been -- and that's why it's never come up before -- are we going to alienate our ally?
Well, you know, when the Europeans did not support our preemptive strike in Iraq, remember our Vice President Cheney said, Oh, we got old Europe, and there's new Europe.And these old Europe, they just don't see it.
Now, Europeans were our allies and we separated Europe and Cheney boldly talked about old Europe and their behind in their thinking, they're archaic.
What was wrong about insulting our so-called allies of old Europe when now we're worried about what Turkey will take as action against us?And 20 countries in the world have declared genocide occurred there.20 -- 40 states in the United States of America have done so.
The fact that we're more concerned about what Turkey will do -- what's going to happen when Turkey attacks the Kurds in Iraq where we for decades protected the Kurds from Saddam Hussein?And now what are we going to do?Look the other way when Turkey says we will never allow a Kurd to stand or the Kurds to be able to represent themselves?
And so we should not allow our allies -- we have a responsibility if we're going to be the leaders in this world and we have tarnished ourselves, in my opinion, with preemptive strikes to countries like in Iraq.
PAYNE:I think that we should stand up on principle.The question is whether genocide occurred or not.Ten years from now, if Turkey's turned against us, then it can pass?It doesn't change the facts.The facts are the facts, and that's what we should vote on, the facts.
I support the resolution.
LANTOS:Gentleman from California, Mr. Royce?
REP. ED ROYCE, R-CALIF.:Thank you, Chairman Lantos.And I'll be brief in my comments.
I'm a co-sponsor, original co-sponsor of this resolution.It's an issue I've worked on for many, many years.I'm old enough to have known some of the survivors while they were still alive of this genocide, and I've worked on this issue since I was a state senator in California.
The original resolution that I introduced and passed in California a generation ago was this genocide resolution.And we've had President Reagan speak out about the Armenian genocide, we have had a lot of water under the bridge.But I think now it's time for Congress to take action.
This resolution focuses singularly on the United States' record of the Armenian genocide.As the text indicates, our National Archives are filled with thousands of pages documenting the premeditated extermination of the Armenian people.
As the genocide was being committed, the U.S. launched a diplomatic effort, a political and a humanitarian campaign worldwide to end the carnage at that time.
ROYCE:We should be proud of that effort.Yet, to this day, for a variety of reasons, we failed to recognize the events that began 90 years ago for what they are.Genocide is what those events were.
And we have a chance to set the record straight.
The U.S. has long been a global leader in promoting human rights around the world.We all know this.But on this issue, the issue of the Armenian genocide, we lag behind.
The French, the Swiss, the Swedish, the Germans, even the Russian government, recognize the Armenian genocide.
As a global leader in human rights, it is imperative for the United States to stand on principle and recognize the annihilation of the Armenians as genocide.
Opponents ask, why now?They warn of dire actions that Turkey might take against the United States if this resolution passes.But it is important that this committee doesn't lose sight between what is right and wrong, and speak out about the wrongs in the world.
While the Armenian genocide was the first of the 20th century, the blind eye cast to the slaughter of the Armenians was a point used by Hitler, who asked his joint chiefs of staff, Who speaks today of their annihilation?
This was a point first made to me by my father, who served with 3rd Army and 7th Army as they cut through Germany.And when they got into Dachau, the concentration camp, he had his brother's camera and he took photographs there of that genocide, what happened in that genocide, of the human bodies that were in the baths and in the ovens and in the railcars.
ROYCE:And to this day, he still has to use those photographs with those who denied that that genocide ever occurred.
And as he says, history is a continuum that affects today and tomorrow.It's much harder to get tomorrow right if we get yesterday wrong.
The world's strength to oppose killing today is made greater by accountability for actions present, but also past.
And I want you to think for a minute about what could easily be said by the culpable leaders of the Khartoum government who continue their genocide in Darfur while denying that that's a genocide.
So, frankly, it's weakened by denial of accountability and obfuscation of past acts.
Not recognizing the Armenian Genocide as such does just that. For the sake of the genocides past and present, I urge the passage of this bipartisan resolution -- 1.5 million Armenians were murdered; 500,000 were removed from their homeland.Passing this resolution will be a victory for human rights.
And I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
LANTOS:The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Wexler?
WEXLER:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I speak in opposition to this resolution.I do so with deep reservations, given the importance of this resolution toArmenian- Americans.
Over the past several years, I have joined with both the Clinton and Bush administrations in recognizing the tragedy that befell countless Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, starting in 1915.
WEXLER:No one disputes that this was one of the darkest chapters in the last century.However, as a member of Congress who wants to see lasting peace and reconciliation between Armenians and Turks, I strongly believe this resolution will further divide these two nations and peoples.
I know it is not the objective of this resolution to create further tension between Turks and Armenians.However, the impact of its passage will surely deepen animosity, cripple efforts of those seeking reconciliation, and will inflame a region of the world already under great duress.
I urge my colleagues to heed the words of Mesrob II, the spiritual leader of the Armenian Orthodox community in Turkey, who recently said the Armenian genocide resolution pending in the United States Congress disrupts both the relations between Turkish people and Armenians in Turkey, and between Turkey and Armenia.
Mr. Chairman, passage of this resolution is not in the interest of our national security and will damage our longstanding relationship with our NATO ally Turkey.
As Secretaries Rice and Gates stated in their letter to Speaker Pelosi in March, the passage of this resolution will significantly endanger U.S. national security interests in the region.
Their letter also calls Turkey an indispensable ally in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, and states that we must recognize the important contributions Turkey is making to U.S. national security, as well as security and stability in the broader Middle East and Europe.
Additionally, eight former secretaries of state and three secretaries of defense from the Clinton, Bush I, Reagan and Ford administrations have all expressed their opposition to this resolution in the name of American national security interests and in support of reconciliation efforts between Armenians and Turks.
WEXLER:It is clear that America can ill afford to lose the support of an ally as important as Turkey at this critical juncture.
As the world's oldest Muslim majority democracy, Turkey is an indispensable partner to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.In Iraq, Turkey provides American troops access to their space, military bases, ports, as well as its border crossing into Iraq.
Turkey is a lynchpin in the transshipment of vital cargo and fuel resources to American troops and coalition partners.
Incirlik Air Base in Turkey is responsible for 75 percent of American military air cargo going into Iraq.Turkey has provided training for Iraqi diplomats, political parties, military officers and security forces, contributes to NATO's Iraq training mission and is active in reconstruction efforts within Iraq.
In Afghanistan, Turkey twice commanded the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.That's our war in Afghanistan.Turkey led the forces twice.
Turkey also supports a provincial reconstruction team, provides both counternarcotics and military training to Afghan security forces, and is active in reconstruction, including building and operating several hospitals.
In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, Turkish peacekeeping troops serve shoulder to shoulder with our men and women in the Balkans.
Turkey is central to American energy security, by providing alternative supply sources and routes around Russia and Iran.
Turkey also remains a critical partner of our ally, Israel. Together, Turkey and Israel are essential to America's security interest in the region and stand as beacons of democracy in a dangerous Middle East.
Finally, I urge my colleagues to think carefully -- carefully about the impact of this resolution on our Iraq policy.For those members of Congress who want American troops to leave Iraq and come home as soon as possible, as I certainly do, please think carefully about the impact of this resolution on our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
WEXLER:Where will tens of thousands of troops redeploy from when they do finally leave Iraq?
Mr. Chairman, it is my hope that today's debate will lead to renewed effort by this committee and Congress to focus on reconciliation between Armenians and Turks that will lead to open borders and healthy bilateral relations between Armenia and Turkey.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
LANTOS:It is with special pleasure to call on my friend from Missouri for the first time as a returning member of this committee, Mr. Blunt.
BLUNT:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.I'm sorry to be returning to the committee under these circumstances.Jo Ann Davis was a great member of Congress and a great example of courage.
I will remember the last week I saw her on the House floor and it was clear that this challenge that she was facing was a very difficult challenge for her, but she was still here doing the work she was elected to do as long as she could.
I'm also pleased, Mr. Chairman, to return to the committee with you and Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and my many friends on either side of the aisle on this committee for the work the committee does.
I've been concerned, Mr. Chairman, about this resolution for some time.I had no sense until yesterday that I'd actually be voting on this resolution in the committee.And I respect the comments that have been made on both sides of this.It's clear that there's no partisan division in this committee on this issue but, clearly, there are two strongly held points of view.
I'd repeat the comments that the chairman started the hearing by, by reminding our friends again that eight former secretaries of state -- in fact, all of the living secretaries of state, including Colin Powell and Madeline Albright have urged us to drop the resolution saying, quote, It would endanger our national security interests in the region, including our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey.
BLUNT:I also, Mr. Chairman, would like to add, for the record, to the committee, just one paragraph from a Washington Post editorial, this morning, titled Worse Than Irrelevant.
Perhaps I'm doing that because I do seldom get to quote The Washington Post in a way that I agree with.
But the last paragraph of that Worse Than Irrelevant editorial, this morning, is saying, with some reaching out to both sides of this argument, I think, as members of this committee are today, Supporters say congressional action is justified by the refusal of the Turkish government to accept the truth of the crimes against Armenians and its criminalization of statements describing those events as genocide.
It's true, again continuing to quote the Post, that Turkey's military and political class have been inexcusably slow to come to terms with that history.And virulent nationalism, not Islamism, may be the country's most dangerous political force.
But Turkish writers and intellectuals are pushing for a change in attitude, and formal and informal talks between Turks and Armenians are making slow progress.A resolution by Congress would probably torpedo rather than help such efforts.
Given that reality and the high risk of vital U.S. security interests, the Armenian genocide resolution cannot be called frivolous.In fact -- and again, continuing to quote the Post -- its passage would be dangerous and grossly irresponsible.
I think, Mr. Chairman, that, while there's never a good time to address this issue, for the reasons that have been mentioned, this is a particularly difficult time, again, for reasons that other members have brought to the committee.
And I'll be voting no, as my first vote on this committee in some time.And I thank you for the time.
The gentleman from New York, Mr. Eliot Engel?
ENGEL:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, in many ways, I wish this resolution was not before us today.Turkey has been a loyal and faithful ally and, from our point of view, has acted more than responsibly in Iraq, the Middle East,, and the world at large.
Turkey's population is overwhelmingly Muslim.But Turkey is a secular state, has good relations with Israel, and is a democracy, and has been a country that the U.S. is proud to call a friend.
ENGEL:Indeed, Turkey shows that there is another way for majority Muslim states than radical Islamic fundamentalism.
On the other hand, Mr. Chairman, it's not to be denied that genocide did happen to the Armenian people.It was the Ottoman Empire who created this genocide, not Turkey.The Turks today are no more responsible for the genocide that happened nearly 100 years ago than young Germans today are responsible for the Holocaust, which happened 60 years ago.
Germany acknowledges the Nazi era and moves on.The U.S. is close friends with Germany.I believe that Turkey should acknowledge this and move on as well.
I don't support reparations or land claims or anything that might grow out of this resolution.But I do support the fact that genocide is genocide, and there's no way of sugarcoating it or cleaning it up or pretending it isn't there.
People suffered greatly.And the best way to move on to the future is by acknowledging what happened in the past.
And so, Mr. Chairman, with a heavy heart, I will vote for this resolution today.But I think that sometimes we really need to reconsider or consider whether some resolutions that we vote for can, indeed, be counterproductive.
I yield the remaining time I might have to Mr. Sherman, who's asked me for a few minutes of my time.
SHERMAN:I thank the gentleman from New York.
We're asked why we should act now.Turkey will be a better ally if we speak truth to Turkey, and Turkey will be an even better ally if it speaks truth itself.
But another reason to act now is very personal.Mr. Ackerman introduced us to four survivors.
SHERMAN:They fled to this country after the genocide.This is there last chance to see the country that gave them refuge take a stand of truth and to speak truth to power.And that's why we can't put this off.They're here today and we need to show them that this is a country that acts based on morality, based on the truth.
I yield back.
LANTOS:Gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Tancredo.
REP. TOM TANCREDO, R-COLO.:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.Mr. Chairman, when I last voted on this particular resolution a couple of years ago, I thought I made it clear, at least I hope I did, that that would be the last time I would be voting in favor of it in hopes that our two friends in this dispute would come to some resolution of this on their own and that we were not, I believe, doing anything productive in the continued discussion of a resolution of this nature.
So I am, today, going to vote no.
I do not know how deeply we need to look into the dustbin of history to find how this -- I guarantee this committee could spend all of its time that's allotted doing exactly that, looking into the dustbin of history at every imaginable wrong that has been committed by every imaginable or, in fact, real empire that has long since passed away.
Whether it is the Ottoman Empire, the Japanese Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or, indeed, the Roman Empire.I mean, we could go on for a long time condemning the atrocities committed under each of these regimes.It is not productive.It is not -- it is no longer productive to do so today.
I voted against -- I was one of two to vote against the Japanese -- the resolution we had condemning -- or asking the Japanese to step up to the plate with regard to the comfort women situation.Again, it was a different government, a totally different situation.
We should, I think, use our time more productively.I certainly believe that the atrocities have been committed but, as was mentioned by Mr. Royce, they are fully documented in our archives.There is nothing that this committee can do to make them either go away or to sugarcoat them.It only, unfortunately, in discussing this resolution, can make the situation worse.
So I reluctantly will be voting no on the resolution.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
LANTOS:Thank you very much.We have live votes on the floor. The committee will stand in recess and we shall resume immediately upon the conclusion of the votes.
LANTOS:Committee will resume.
Gentleman from California, Mr. Berman?
REP. HOWARD L. BERMAN, D-CALIF.:Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
There is no doubt that Turkey is a critical ally of the United States in a very volatile region.At a time of growing Islamic radicalism, it is a moderate Muslim country that provides a model for others.
But none of this justifies turning a blind eye to the reality of the Armenian genocide.I don't pretend to be a professional historian.I haven't scoured the archives in Ankara looking for original documents.
But one thing is clear:The vast, vast majority of experts, people who have looked at this issue for years, agree the tragic events of 1914 to 1918 constitute genocide.
In a recent letter to members of Congress, the International Association of Genocide Scholars stated the following.I quote. The historical record on the Armenian genocide is unambiguous and documented by overwhelming evidence.It is proven by foreign office records of the United States, France, Great Britain, Russia, and perhaps most importantly, of Turkey's World War I allies Germany and Austria-Hungary, as well as by the records of the Ottoman courts martial of 1918 to 1920, and by decades of scholarship.
It goes on to say -- this is the International Association of Genocide Scholars -- As crimes of genocide continue to plague the world, Turkey's policy of denying the Armenian Genocide gives license to those who perpetrate genocide everywhere.
We urge you to pass H. Res. 106 because it is recognition of an historical turning point in the 20th century, the even that inaugurated the era of modern genocide.In spite of its importance, the Armenian Genocide has gone unrecognized until recently and warrants a symbolic act of moral commemoration.
Professor Yudahu DeBauer (ph), a highly respected scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has written that the Armenian Genocide is the closest parallel to the Holocaust.
BERMAN:In a 1985 report, a submission of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that the massacres of Armenians in 1915 and 1916 qualified as genocide.
And as Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer, who coined the word genocide and drafted the international genocide convention, told an interviewer, I became interested in genocide because it happened to the Armenians.
Mr. Chairman, 20 other countries, including France, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, and Chile, have formally recognized the Armenian genocide.As a world leader in promoting human rights, we have a moral responsibility to join them.
I urge and I vote for this resolution.
LANTOS:The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Pence?
PENCE:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I really come to this markup today after a gut-wrenching number of days of reflection and prayer.And I rise in opposition to this measure, but I do it with a heavy heart.
And for the victims of the events that began in 1915, 92 years is a long time coming.I want to acknowledge, with admiration, the presence of families affected by the events of the last century about which we debate today.
I admire them for their determination.I appreciate their prayers that have been rendered on behalf of members of this committee charged with public duties in this matter.
And I am personally grateful for their testimony of faith and devotion to their families and their loved ones.
Mr. Chairman, let me be clear.There was a genocide committed against the Armenians in the period beginning in 1915.It is with this belief that I have supported a similar resolution in the past.
The resolution before us today correctly cites Ronald Reagan's proclamation on the Holocaust, dated 22 April, 1981, which made reference to the, quote, genocide of the Armenians.
PENCE:There was, indeed, a genocide of the Armenians.And it will not be forgotten.
I do not minimize or deny the horror that took place in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire.The fact that more than a million Christians were killed, en masse, makes it all the more poignant to me.
I do not accept the contention that this was mere collateral damage in a bloody war.It was not.
We will not forget this genocide.And I will not forget this genocide.But I cannot support this resolution at this time.The old book tells us that there is a time for every purpose under heaven.
With American troops in harm's way, dependent on critical supply routes available through an alliance that we enjoy with the nation of Turkey, I submit that at this time, this is not the time for this nation to speak on this dark chapter of history.
I believe this is a season that calls for standing with our troops first, who are in harm's way.This is a season that calls for maintaining relationships with a crucial ally in the global war on terror.
And Turkey is an indispensable partner to our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.More than 70 percent of air cargo into Iraq transits through Turkey.Thousands of transport sorties have left Turkey, the Northern Watch no fly zones of the original Gulf War cease-fire were begun out of Turkey.
Their basing and logistic support is simply indispensable to our efforts in the Middle East.And the Incirlik Air Base has been a staple of American power projection for decades.
Our basing lease is renewed annually, and it is something we should not, at a time of war, take for granted.
The question before us today, I submit to you respectfully, Mr. Chairman, is simple, and it should be what is in our national interest and which course best advances our national security?
At this time in our nation's history, we are engaged in a war on terror, and we are constantly reminded that it requires allies' support at home and abroad.We need every ally in that war.
And we have heard from every living former secretary of state and defense that this resolution would be unwise at this time.
And I am aware of the strong opinions of both the president and the secretary of state on this subject as well.
PENCE:I believe we should proceed with compassion for Americans whose families were affected by the genocide of the Armenians last century.But I also believe we should proceed with caution.At a time that we are at war, we must do that which is in our nation's interest and the interests of our soldiers down range.
And with that, I respectfully and regretfully encourage a no vote on this resolution.
LANTOS:Gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Delahunt?
DELAHUNT:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I think it's important -- I've heard others state that this House has not acted on this issue.The reality is that this House has acted on this issue in 1984, and it's expressed in the whereas clauses under House Joint Resolution 247.And let me read into the record the relevant language.
The president of the United States is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the American people to observe such a day as a day of remembrance for all the victims of the genocide, especially the 1.5 million people of Armenian ancestry who were victims of the genocide perpetrated in Turkey between 1915 and 1928 in whose memory this date is commemorated by all Armenians and their friends throughout the world.
So the fact is that there has been an act of Congress relative to this issue.I say that because I think it's important that the record be clear, because some of my colleagues have indicated that it is time for this Congress to take action.
DELAHUNT:Well, this body has taken action.
Having said that, just several points:Nobody can deny the support and the friendship of Turkey and the Turkish people to the people of the United States and the American government.
We all remember their support for the United States in Korea. Others have listed, in detail, the contributions of Turkey and the Turkish people to the United States.That also is a fact.
I view this particular resolution not directed at the current government in Turkey nor the Turkish people.As my colleague on my left, Congressman Engel, indicated in his remarks, that he did not assess the culpability and blame for the Holocaust on the German people who live in Germany today and have made efforts to make amends to the Jewish people.
I look at this resolution as directed to all of us, all of mankind, if you will, to our darker angels, not our better angels.
Because, as others have indicated, we all share, in some level, whether we be Germans, Armenians or Turks, a responsibility for dark moments in our own history.The gentleman from American Samoa related several:the internment of the Japanese-Americans in World War II, the stain of slavery that is part of our own history -- there's a long list -- events in Iraq that have been condemned by the world make us responsible.
DELAHUNT:Back in the 1980's, American government actions in Guatemala resulted in a report commissioned by the United Nations which implicated the American government in the genocide that occurred against the indigenous people in that country, where some 200,000 indigenous people were slaughtered and murdered.
LANTOS:The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Flake?
FLAKE:I thank the chairman.I'll be very brief.
I simply think that it is with much caution that we ought to move on matters like these, given the repercussions out there.I want to associate myself with the comments of Mr. Pence.I don't try to minimize what happened, nor do I try to wash over it, but simply: Where do we go from here?
And I think the best way is to vote no and hope that the parties themselves can reconcile.
It's said that, if not now, when?When is the right time?I think we might have to concede that the time has come and gone for this type of resolution.We simply need to move ahead.And I think that that's the best course here.
I yield back.
LANTOS:The gentleman from New York, Mr. Meeks?
MEEKS:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Like many of my members -- my colleagues here today, I've agonized over this markup, this hearing today.
True, as many have indicated, that Turkey is a true and strong ally of the United States.And true, given the current political situations across this land, particularly with moderate Islamic nations, we need to make sure that our war on terror is not us just condemning and looking at countries that happen to be moderate Islamic states.
MEEKS:That's all true.
It is also true that there's no denying that from 1915 to 1923 that ethnic Armenians suffered atrocities of the worst kind.I am reminded that we should never allow those kinds of atrocities to go and to be forgotten.
And so, to a degree that we talk about the atrocities of the past so that we can understand the mistakes of the past and have a better tomorrow, this dialogue is good and I do believe that it should take place in the parliaments in Turkey.
What I am most concerned with though, here, is our own House. This similar or same resolution came up some three years ago and I, at that time, voted to support it, not to take sides, but with the hope that it would provide forward movement in the reconciliation process; that it would help to bring healing to those who have suffered.And it hurts me now to still see many of the individuals who suffered in front of this room.
But what hurts me even more is the apparent inaction of this Congress to deal with its own problems and how the rest of the world is looking at us.And yes, as many members have mentioned, they've talked about our past, particularly the atrocities that deal with slavery.And I've been a member of this House for the last nine and a half years.And I've seen resolutions come up with regards to slavery just to have this nation apologize and it has not happened.
We cannot do what we're asking other individuals to do in our Congress.We have failed to do what we're asking other people to do. I was brought up to say that you take care of your own house first.
MEEKS:In fact, I was reminded of a Biblical scripture, Matthew 7:5.Basically, the Modern English translation says, You hypocrite. First you move the beam from your own eye.Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer's eye.
We have not removed the beam from our own eye.
When the Judiciary Committee and Chairman Conyers -- he's had a bill for years, just to study the effects on slavery and whether or not reparations would be appropriate -- just to study it.It cannot pass this House.
In fact, I've seen members of this House, when that bill was proposed, smile and snicker that it's a foolish bill.
We have got to clean up our own house.I've got a bill that's coming out, a resolution I'm going to put out shortly -- working on it now -- talking about the atrocities that took place on the Native Americans of this land.
I've yet to see us pass a resolution to talk about them, who will still have abolished and put them on -- they go on small little territories called reservations, living in abstract poverty.
LANTOS:The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Barrett?
BARRETT:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
While I understand the true intent of Resolution -- H. Res. 106, I'm afraid the consequences of this bill could be extremely great for our country, if it's reported out of House Foreign Affairs Committee today.
I cannot stress the harm that I believe could come to our national security interests in the region and our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Turkey is a crucial partner in U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the entire Middle Eastern region as a whole.Passage of the resolution could have significant negative effects on Turkish- American relationships.
The use of Turkish airspace, military bases, and border crossings could be jeopardized.
BARRETT:With about 3,000 trucks passing into Iraq every day from Turkey and a large percentage of our logistics in Iraq coming from the nation, this would be absolutely disastrous for our troops and coalition forces bravely serving in Iraq.
Furthermore, Turkey has continued to be a key collaborator in U.S. efforts to promote stability in the Middle East, the Balkans and Afghanistan -- all of which have significant strategic importance to the United States.
In Afghanistan alone, Turkey has twice commanded the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and is currently supporting a provincial reconstruction and military training of Afghan security forces.
I believe the issue at hand today is best left to the Turkey and Armenian people to work through together.And I am extremely hopeful that the two countries can continue to move forward toward reconciliation and an opening of the Turkish-Armenianborder.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I must respectfully oppose H. Res. 106.
LANTOS: The gentlelady from California, Ms. Watson?
WATSON:Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for your leadership.
And I want to thank Mr. Schiff for introducing H.R. 106.
Mr. Chairman, the current administration has launched a massive lobbying effort against H.R. 106.I find it incredible that not only the administration, but the government of Turkey, has given so much attention to a nonbinding sense of the Congress resolution about a horrific incident of Armenian genocide, whose factual documentation is beyond dispute.
The Turkish government argues that congressional recognition of genocide will somehow adversely affect our two countries' bilateral relations in what I believe is yet another misguided effort to silence recognition of Armenian Genocide of 1915 to 1921.
The debate here today in some ways reminds me of the debate that took place in the same committee room not too long ago on the comfort women.Similar arguments were used by the opposition to attempt to thwart the comfort women resolution.
Again, the historical facts of the matter were beyond dispute. Again, a government was in denial.And again, a trusted ally of the U.S. vociferously argued that the pending, nonbinding legislation would undermine bilateral relations.
WATSON:It hasn't.I don't see how speaking to truth can ever undermine relations with our allies.H.R. 106 is not directed against Turkey; read the bill.It talks about the Ottoman Empire on Turkish soil.
Instead, H.R. 106 targets denial and, most importantly, it targets modern day apologists and perpetrators of genocide and other grave crimes against humanity.
Opponents of H.R. 106 argue that the resolution, if passed, would upset our ally, Turkey, causing it to retaliate against U.S. interests.Turkey, itself, at various levels channels, has suggested so much.
I believe, however, that Turkey would not be acting in the best interests if it was to opt for retaliation, particularly given the fact that 11 other members of NATO, including Canada, have recognized the Armenian genocide.
Turkey is a close and trusted NATO ally, and that is beyond dispute.Its alliance with NATO is based on shared interests and values.Turkey is also one of the largest recipients of U.S. security assistance.And as a valued and trusted partner of NATO and the U.S., I believe that the diplomatic fallout from passage of this bill is overblown and does not speak to the broad and deep relationship between our two great nations.
The promotion of human rights as a unique and critical part of the U.S. foreign policy is one factor that I believe sets our nation apart from many others around the world.
If we are to uphold these values and if they are to have credibility among both friend and foe, then we cannot be bullied into silence here today and I would urge my colleagues to vote yes on H.R. 106, and I yield back my time, if I have any left, to Mr. Brad Sherman.
He's not here.
LANTOS:The gentleman from Nebraska, Mr. Fortenberry.
FORTENBERRY:Thank you, Mr. Chairman for having this mark up today.Much has been said and I'll be brief.
After giving this matter careful consideration, I remain concerned that this resolution is not the appropriate instrument for fostering reconciliation between the peoples of Armenia and Turkey and could potentially cause unintended consequences.But it must be said, without diminishing a horrible chapter in history and one of the gravest humanitarian tragedies of the past century.
I must conclude with reservation that this particular approach at this time to addressing deep wounds of the past could jeopardize future opportunities to achieve genuine hope and healing.
I yield back.
LANTOS:Gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Carnahan.
CARNAHAN:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
H. Res. 106 is a non binding sense of Congress resolution that calls on the president to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity of human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide relating the to Armenian Genocide.U.S. presidents have been and continue to take that into account in our foreign policy.
President Clinton, in one of his addresses remembered a great tragedy of the 20th century, the deportation and massacres of roughly one and a half million Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.He further referenced in '99.
Today, against the background of events in Kosovo, all Americans should recommit themselves to building a world where such events never occur again.As we learn from the past, we also build for the future.
Armenians are right to seek continued remembrance of unimaginable atrocities under the Ottoman Empire.The history is clear.Modern day Turkey is wrong to be slow to acknowledge and quick to minimize or even criminalize discussion of historic facts.
CARNAHAN:We must look at this in the context of U.S. foreign policy and our country's interests.I believe we must pursue reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, stability and peace in the Middle East, promoting a rare, secular democracy in the Muslim world.
On balance, this resolution, at this time, is not the best course.
We saw a stunning clarity of message recounted in The Washington Post editorial of today, with all eight former secretaries of state, from Kissinger to Madeleine Albright urging the Congress to drop the resolution, saying, quote, It could endanger our national security interests in the region, our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and damage our efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey.
In a visit to Turkey last summer, I saw many speaking about Turkey's aspirations to be a member of the E.U.
Turkey will have to step up and face its history, with the Armenians, with Cyprus, with tolerance to religious minorities, in the course of that.
Turkey is a longtime and strong ally in a tough neighborhood, in an area where there are few examples, in the Muslim world, of a secular, democratic friend.
In the context of today and today's U.S. interests, reluctantly, I must vote no.
LANTOS:The gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Inglis?
INGLIS:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
This is a very difficult vote and a difficult decision, but I think it's best to vote no, and here's why.
To our Armenian friends, we understand your desire for justice and vindication, which you see closely tied up in this resolution.
On the plain reading of the text, it would be very difficult for any of us to vote against this resolution.But we also understand that passage of this resolution may have the exact opposite outcome of what Armenians actually desire.
If you desire Turkey to have a frank admission of the past, maybe teach an Armenianperspective in schools, and have national reconciliation with your country and your people throughout the world, passing this resolution through the committee and on the floor of the House may make all of those things more difficult, rather than less difficult.
INGLIS:That's why I must reluctantly vote no, and I suspect there are many members of this committee who feel that way.And they are certainly not genocide deniers.
It seems to me that when we come upon a current situation of genocide, say in Darfur, for example, it's incumbent upon us as those with leadership in the United States speak out against those examples or those incidences of genocide.
When it comes to a historical matter, it's a little bit different in that if there is a historical matter that needs attention, and there had been ones before this committee recently that were discussed earlier, it's worth voting to express the sentiments of the United States, the House and Senate, on those topics.
But where those sentiments begin to affect current populations is where we've got to take special care.And my concern is, certainly, with out supply lines, which has been well-discussed here already, but it's also with the Armenians who must face the current consequences of this kind of action.
And for them, I think it's -- we should have some concern about whether this would actually make it worse for them.And so, for that reason, Mr. Chairman, I intend to vote no and I appreciate the opportunity to explain that vote.
LANTOS:The gentlelady from California, Ms. Woolsey.
WOOLSEY:Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thank you for the time.
I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of this legislation and I urge all of my colleagues to support it.
As part of the debate, I thought what I'd do is use my time to highlight two women from our area, Mr. Chairman, from the San Francisco Bay area, and tell about their real life experiences during the Armenian genocide.
The first woman I'd like to talk about is Haiganoush Marcarian (ph).And she's seen here in this photo.She was born on January 24, 1902.Look at her.
WOOLSEY:She's still living.She was in the historic Armenian city of (inaudible) Turkey, which suffered a huge loss and many losses during the Armenian Genocide.
When the Turks came after her father and brother, both went into hiding; her brother in the hills, her father in the well at their home until he was actually forced to look elsewhere for his safety.
Her mother, somehow, saved the family from the rampant deportations and massacres and, in fact, reunited with her husband for a very brief period.Her husband died, however, as a result of the damp conditions in the well that he had hidden in for such a long period of time.
In 1923, the remainder of the family was able to make their way to Syria and eventually the United States.
Mrs. Marcarian (ph) now resides in Oakland.And at the age of 105, she says she prays she'll live to see the day when both the government of Turkey, from where she fled, and the government of the United States, where she found refuge, will officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.
The second woman I'd like to honor and talk about today is Nuvart Karagozian (ph).Seen in this picture, she was born in Turkey in 1907.When her parent got word of the approaching Turkish forces and the terrible atrocities they were committing, they put Nuvart (ph) and her four siblings in an orphanage believing they would be safer there.
During the ensuing years, Nuvart's (ph) older sister was killed, as was their mother when Nuvart's (ph) sister was forced to leave the orphanage.Her baby brother disappeared.Her two older brothers were taken by a Turkish family from which one escaped and reunited later with Nuvart (ph).
In 1920, Nuvart (ph) and her brother Melcan (ph), the little one, were able to join an aunt and uncle in Massachusetts and later moved to Fresno, California, to establish a farm.
In 1971, their long-lost remaining brother sought them out and the three siblings were reunited after 56 years.Having been orphaned as a child, Nuvart (ph) later spent much of her time in Fresno raising money for Armenian orphans.She celebrates her 100th birthday this October 25th.
WOOLSEY:These, Mr. Chairman, are just two examples of survivors.We may never know the story of those who were the victims of the genocide so today this committee and the House must speak on their behalf.
I yield back.
LANTOS:Gentleman from Texas, Mr. Poe.
POE:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It's obvious that the Armenian community wants this passed.The Turkish community does not.It's the best interest of Armenia that it's passed, the best interest of Turkey that it's not passed.
But passage of this will not settle the issue any more than it settled the issue with all of the other nations that passed a very similar resolution because the argument continues to go on. Eventually, maybe in our lifetime, maybe not, Armenia and Turkey have to resolve this issue together.
And I think that the passage of this resolution will actually cause more tension than less tension, because both sides will be more adamant in their positions and stick their heels in the ground.
The question I have is, what's best for the United States?I think that's probably an appropriate decision to be made on this issue.What's best for American interest and America, especially in the Middle East.
So, my vote is not what's best for Armenia or even what's best for Turkey -- my vote is going to be what's best for American interest -- American national security interest -- what's best for our troops that are in Iraq at a war and in Afghanistan in a war.
And I think best for American interest is a vote of no on this.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.I yield back.
LANTOS:Gentlelady from Texas, Sheila Jackson-Lee.
JACKSON-LEE:First of all, Mr. Chairman, let me offer my appreciation to this committee and to you and the Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, because I think this committee is one of the clear examples of opportunities for us to work together.
And in foreign policy, we often try to overcome partisanship and speak to the issues that are important to the United States of America.
JACKSON-LEE:And I think we're doing that here today.And, frankly, I think that we are doing that in a manner that is in conjunction, that is aligned with the mindset and the principles of this nation.That is, we all are created equal.
And I will say that I am greatly impressed with the ambassador from Turkey and many of his supporters who have worked in these waning hours on the beliefs that they have.
I'm equally moved, and more moved, by those from the Armenian community who have toiled year after year to educate this nation on the important issue which they want addressed.
In Texas, someone who is in the middle of the road is usually called a dead armadillo, because that is likely what happens to you when you try to broach a compromise.
I have an amendment that I was putting at the desks, and I hope my good friends from Turkey will read it.I will not offer it at this time, because I really want to speak to this legislation.
The amendment reinforces some of the language that was in earlier initiatives that indicated that Turkey is an ally and a strong friend of the United States.
But I have read this legislation 106 and I would commend you to reading it, because the legislation resolved points directly back to the United States, and it reinforces these pages and pages of presidential messages that acknowledge the tragedy of the Armenian people.We've been on record to acknowledge that.The legislation itself points as far back to Ambassador Morgenthau, who wrote to the United States Department of State that the policy of the government of the Ottoman Empire, described it as a campaign of race extermination, in July 16, 1915.
The legislation also refers us in 1948, United Nations War Crimes Commission invoked the Armenian Genocide precisely one of the types of acts which the modern term crimes against humanity is intended to cover.
There is a chronicling of a history that says that the world should simply acknowledge what has happened.
I hope my friends in Turkey will realize that engagement is important, not last minute shuffling and pushing, but engagement, ongoing establishment of relationships.
And all of those who have traveled to Turkey have indicated it is a beautiful, wonderful country, wonderful people.And those who are here from Turkey who are Americans likewise are great contributors.
But I would simply say that this legislation is balanced and fair.
JACKSON-LEE:And if you read it, it simply calls upon the president to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, genocide, documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution.
I respect the work of this administration and past administrations.In fact, I'm holding in my hand a letter signed by 10 or so -- or eight secretaries of state.I respect what they're saying.But I don't know if they've read this current legislation.
This is not in anyway an indictment that should impair the relationship between the United States and Turkey.It should be a celebration.And maybe if we move to the floor, we might be able to look to that commission that has been advocated; where everyone opens their historic books, we all sit around the table of reconciliation, and we document it in a concrete way, Turkey, the Armenian people.
For those of us who have abhorred Rwanda and Sudan -- cannot find it in our heart to ignore the Armenian people.And I am saddened that it has come to the point that Turkey would feel that this is an indictment against the friendship that we have had.
LANTOS:The gentlelady's time has expired.
JACKSON-LEE:I ask my colleagues to support the underlying amendment and I thank my distinguished chairman for yielding to me.
LANTOS:The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Bilirakis.
BILIRAKIS:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Sorry about that; my mic wasn't working.
Today, I urge this committee to pass House Resolution 106 and recognize the horrific tragedy of genocide carried out against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire.The more than 1.5 million innocent Armenians, men and women and children who died should not be brushed aside by history or this Congress any longer.It is without question that Turkey is a strategic ally to the United States, and has worked to bring peace and stability to the Middle East and surrounding region.
BILIRAKIS:It has also proven as a crucial partner in the global war on terror.To be clear to my colleagues who oppose House Resolution 106, this measure does not condemn the existing government of Prime Minister Erdogan or accuse it of complicity in the genocide.
A stable, secular and democratic Turkey has long been the foreign policy goals of the United States government and will continue to be long after this resolution has passed before us.
The reality is that the Armenian genocide must not be put on the back burner of history for fear of acknowledging the truth or fending our ally, Turkey.
This resolution simply, once and for all, seeks to characterize the deliberate extermination of one and a half million Armenians as genocide.For the sake of commemorating every instance of genocide, so as to prevent it's recurrence, let us adopt this resolution today and urge its prompt and final passage.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.Appreciate it.
LANTOS:Gentleman from Texas, Mr. Hinojosa.
HINOJOSA:Thank you, Chairman Lantos, and Ranking Member Ros- Lehtinen.
I appreciate the opportunity to debate this resolution, H.R. 106, and applaud your leadership in bringing this legislation before our committee today.
This resolution has drawn considerable attention from a wide range of interests: Armenian, Turkish and American.And it demonstrates the passion and the emotion that spring from remembrances of the past.
I want to associate what the remarks of my friend and colleague, Congressman Meeks from New York.He makes a strong case for our Congress to acknowledge the wrongdoings to those who were held as slaves.
While the twilight of the Ottoman Empire remains within the realm of genuine historical debate, the horrors that befell Armenian and Turkish civilians alike were undeniably violent and merciless.
HINOJOSA:While the academic community will undoubtedly continue their debate on the events of the first world war, it is important that we memorialize the victims of this violence in honest terms that neither antagonize nor trivialize.
We must emphasize that the markup of H.R. 106 and our consideration of this resolution is absolutely not an indictment against the modern nation of Turkey.As our nation has turned its attention toward the Muslim world, our alliance with Turkey has benefited our mutual goals of stemming terrorism and building a stable Middle East.
This resolution should not be interpreted by the Turkish people as a break in our nations' close alliance.As our committee investigates the actions of a long-fallen empire, I wish to emphasize our nation's continuing respect and administration for the Turkish people and it's government.
After full consideration of the consequences of this legislation, I must vote no.As committee members vote on this resolution today, it is important that we honor the contributions of our loyal allies and hope for a future of reconciliation and understanding by the Turkish and the Armenian people.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
LANTOS:The gentleman from New York, Mr. Crowley?
CROWLEY:I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for moving this resolution forward.
Let me state from the outset that I do recognize that our friends in Turkey are our allies, that there are many Turkish-Americans who are great Americans and contributing mightily to our country today, and we recognize that.
And I also recognize that this resolution is not aimed at modern Turkey.This resolution is aimed at what was once the Ottoman Empire and what they did in terms of what I believe was genocide to the Armenian people.
As was mentioned before, to destroy in whole or in part a national ethnical, racial or religious group, as such killing members of that group, is within the definition of the confines of the genocide resolution of the United Nations.
CROWLEY:I believe that this particular case suggests that this was a case of genocide.
As it pertains to my good friend from New York, Mr. Meeks -- and his comments, which I believe are very powerful -- and I know that he believes very strongly in the position as it pertains to slavery and as it pertains to the Native American situation.
Let me say that if that -- if those bills were before this committee, if we had jurisdiction, they were brought forward I would vote for both resolutions to recognize the wrongdoings of slavery by this country, as well as how we treated the Native American population.So I feel somewhat freer in terms of expressing that.I do believe that there were elements of genocide in both situations.
But that doesn't distract me or take me away from the point that is at hand.
When is there ever a good time to do a resolution like this? Probably never is there ever a good time to do any of these types of things.There's always some inconvenience that will come up that we'll say, that we ought not take this up at this point, we should put it to another time for another vote.
My mother had a great expression growing up, I think you all know it.Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.In this case, bombs and guns may kill our sons, but resolutions will not hurt our country.
If we are to believe that there are threats that if we do this resolution that somehow will hurt our relationship with our ally and friend Turkey, but somehow the unstable position we sustain ourselves in in Iraq today will become more unstable because of this resolution, well then shame on those who would suggest that.
Shame on anyone who would try to use the lives of our young men and women in the position that they are faced themselves in in Iraq today or anywhere else in this world because of this resolution that we're putting forward today.
We're trying to find the truth as to what happened during that time.It's about the Congress recognizing what happened during that time -- not about anyone else.It's what the House of Representatives take -- in this position.
CROWLEY:And I have supported this resolution in the past.I supported this resolution prior to coming to Congress.I think it's the right thing to do and now is the right time to do that.I will support this resolution.
I yield back the balance of my time.
LANTOS:Before recognizing my next colleague, I want to ask staff on both sides to alert both members that, within a few minutes, I anticipate having a roll call vote.
Gentleman for Oregon, Mr. Wu.
WU:Mr. Chairman, at this point in our discussion, I think that my vote will speak more eloquently than most anything I say.I just want to borrow one phrase from a small school in California, the California Institute of Technology, better known is CalTech.
It's motto is: The truth shall make you free. The truth shall make you free, it has deeper textual roots, but I think it is the reason why we passed the comfort women bill.It was something that helped free the comfort women of the devils that had bedeviled them since World War II.It is something that will make Japan a better country in the future.And it's something that freely states what we, in the United States Congress, see as truth.Japan is a good friend and a good ally.
Turkey is a friend and an ally.And I think that we should act, today, on the truth in order that those who suffered and their family members can move on, that Turkey can face its past.And if we, in this chamber, so well-protected and, in fact, selected to come here to speak the truth, are concerned about doing that for passing factors, than I think the truth will have a hard time any time, anywhere in the world.
Search your hearts, search your souls.I, for one, intend to support the resolution.And I believe that the gentleman from California...
(UNKNOWN):I think the gentleman for yielding.I have many pithy insights I'm dying to share with the committee; the most significant of which is we ought to vote before they call a vote on the floor of the House.
And I'll restrain myself, yield back and hope I inspire others.
LANTOS:Gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Miller?
Mr. Chairman, usually at this stage in the debate, I would think that everything that could be said has been said, but my view is somewhat different.
I think the burden of the sins of human history are intolerable for all of us.What happened in Germany is intolerable.What happened in Turkey and Armenia -- or the Ottoman Empire and Armenia is intolerable.
I dearly wish that if this Congress passed this resolution that modern day Turkey would feel chastened, would pause, would examine what happened, would decide if there was something they needed to do to acknowledge and bewail their manifold sins and wickedness, to do something about it.
I fear instead -- or I feel certain instead that there would be none of that.There would simply be a sense of being insulted.There would be anger --not any sense of being chastened.
Our standing in the Muslim world does not put us in a position to scold, to chasten, even for the most horrific acts of 90 years ago.
Turkey remains a nation whose friendship we need.It is perhaps the only stable democracy, enduring democracy in the Muslim world.It is a secular country.It needs to be a nation that is leading that part of the world toward a very different future, like the future that Turkey embraced shortly after these events, beginning with Attaturk and forward.
And I do not think that there is anything that this resolution would accomplish that would push us -- push Turkey in that direction.
I do grieve for the victims of those horrific events.I understand the healing power of acknowledging sins from the past.
I remember having dinner as a brand new member of Congress, an informal dinner with Bob and Doris Matsui, and they told the story that they intended to be just a story about how you get things done in Congress as a freshman, of persuading other members to pass a resolution, acknowledging and apologizing for the internment of Japanese in the Second World War.
Both Bob and Doris Matsui were interned in the Second World War as young children.
MILLER:I don't think they had any idea the emotional effect it would have upon them to tell the story.And they both broke into tears in telling the story.I understand the healing power of acknowledging past sins.These are not our sins to acknowledge.
I hope the time will come for Turkey.That they will look honestly, with clear eyes at what has happened.They will search their soul.They will try to do what is right.
Mr. Meek, I will join you in the efforts to search our souls, as well, to acknowledge and be whale our manifest -- manifold sins and wickedness.
But with great misgivings, I will vote against this resolution today.
LANTOS:Gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Scott.
SCOTT:Thank you very much.Mr. Chairman, we arrive at a very, very difficult and challenging moment.We have three actors here on this stage, Turkey, Armenia, and the United States.I can't begin to tell you how my heart bleeds for the pain, the anguish that the people of Armenia have suffered and -- have suffered and are suffering.
But I believe that we have to look at the here and the now.Many of my colleagues have talked about the situation in Japan and have talked about the kept women.And yes, there was an apology made and rightfully so.
But, ladies and gentlemen, we were not at war in the Asian Pacific.We are at war, whether we like it or we don't.I happen to don't like it.I wish we weren't at war.We find ourselves in a very particular position.
And I know that some of my colleagues have said very eloquently, well, we did that to Japan, they didn't do anything.Let us call the Turks' bluff on this.
The question we've got to ask with this vote is:Are we willing to put our soldiers, our brave men and women at risk in this region? Are we willing to take that gamble to say, Oh they're not going to do anything, when they clearly have stated that they will.
SCOTT:Now, I said Turkey has a role in this.I belong to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.We just flew back yesterday from our fall meetings in Iceland.On the table was the issue of the missile defense system we're trying to put in the Czech Republic and in Poland.
We had a vote on the resolution.The Russians, of course, were adamantly opposed to this.We didn't know where the debate would go. But critical to the debate was the fact that, of all of them there, it was the delegation from Turkey that offered us some help and we prevailed.
Now, what I'm saying is:Do we want to take a risk that the Turks will not remove and pull back the over-air rights that they've given us to fly our fighters into Iraq and Afghanistan?Well, what will we say if they say, We told you so, so we're not going to let you use supply lines coming out of Turkey to feed and fuel our troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq ?
What will we say concerning the pipeline that is helping us to bring oil around in a less volatile region skirting around Russia to help with our oil dependency of the Middle East?
All I'm saying, ladies and gentlemen, as we face this very difficult issue, when we measure our allies -- and these are allies, proven allies -- one of the most valuable commodities that they provide is the intelligence; our most reliable source of unfettered intelligence that is helping us in the Middle East comes through Turkey.
SCOTT:The Armenian question is plain as day.What was done to them was wrong.The issue is:What is in the best interest of the national security of the United States?
And in the final analysis, the folks in this country who voted to send members of Congress up here are citizens of the United States of America.And often times, in cases like these, tough decisions, when right is right on both sides...
LANTOS:Gentleman's time has expired.
Gentleman from California, Mr. Costa.
COSTA:Thank you very much, Chairman Lantos, for bringing this important resolution before the Foreign Affairs Committee and the ranking member.
You all demonstrate, I believe, profiles encourage as our chairman and our speaker demonstrating today that this measure should be heard and debated in the House of Representatives.
Clearly, the debate has demonstrated that there are great differences of opinion on both sides of the aisle.The importance of Turkey as an ally to the United States, both as a supporter of the war on terrorism, as well as in our efforts in Afghanistan in Iraq, obviously, have been well-stated and not taken for granted.I certainly don't.
But I do support this resolution.Much has been said about the potential impacts of our national security in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.But I would heed my colleagues who have that concern to note that, in fact, when Russia recognized the genocide in 1995, their trade increased with Turkey by over 351 percent.
COSTA:When Greece recognized the genocide, who have had tensions over the decades with Turkey, in 1996, their trade increased by 266 percent.
And, yes, the European Union parliament passed last year a set of conditions, economic conditions and social conditions prior to the entry of Turkey into the European Union, and one of those conditions was the recognition of the genocide.And, yes, Turkey still is attempting to enter into the European Union.
Nation-states, ultimately, at the end of the day, notwithstanding their own internal politics, do what's in their best interest.And because of the assistance and because of all the important relationships that we have with Turkey, I believe, if, in fact, we pass this measure, that they will not like it, but they certainly will do what's in their best interest.
And I believe, at the end of the day, that will be to continue to have a relationship with our great nations.
For me, as I suspect for others on this committee, this resolution involves the issue -- the simple issue -- of man's injustice to mankind.It's occurred in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, the Holocaust -- and, in this instance, this resolution's about the Armenian genocide.
In May 2006, I went on a CODEL to Iraq and Turkey and Greece with my colleague, Mr. Pence.As we traveled through Turkey we had a meeting with President Abdullah Gul, who was then the foreign minister.He's president today.And I'd like to relate a story to the members of this committee.
I talked about the positive relationship with Turkey and America and our longstanding relations, that modern day Turkey stands for successful secular democracy, a responsible nation-state on the world stage.
But I also told him that nations in the world have periods of history they'd soon forget.I explained that slavery in early America is one of the chapters that many of us would soon overlook, and even some of our beloved founding fathers had slaves.Slavery created turmoil in our nation for decades and one of many causes of the Civil War.
The issues of civil rights in America continued for 100 years following that and resulted in the Civil Rights Act passed by the Congress in the 1960s.
And despite this monumental legislation, we still have problems today in our country, but we acknowledge and we confront them, just as modern day Turkey should.
COSTA:The purpose of this resolution today, then, is not to belittle the accomplishments of Turkey, but rather to acknowledge an event that occurred early in the 20th century involving the plan to remove people from their homes and their lands.And, sadly, it evolved into one of the first genocides of the modern world.
Modern day Turkey was not responsible for that genocide, but they should acknowledge it and they should move on.It's important that we acknowledge this fact in an effort to heal the wounds, to build new relationships among Turkey and Armenia and the world communities.
One can debate specific incidences, but growing up in Fresno, California, the land of William Saroyan, I can tell you I heard many stories as a kid from grandparents of my friends, the Kazarians (ph), the Collegians, the Abrahamian families about being forced to leave their homes; the stories of long marches; the massacres and murders that occurred to women and children.
Clearly, the believed that there was a systematic approach to eliminate the Armenian communities in places that had been their homes and farms for centuries.My Armenian friends believed 1915 through 1923 was a systematic approach among the first genocides of the 20th century.And so do I.
This resolution is not meant to reopen the wounds are degenerate the importance of our relationship with the Turkish people or their government -- and an important ally.But my vote in favor of this resolution -- to accurately reflect...
LANTOS:Gentleman time has expired.
COSTA:... the importance of this...
LANTOS:The gentleman from New Jersey...
COSTA:... and support the measure.
LANTOS:... Mr. Sires.
SIRES:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.I want to congratulate Congressman Schiff on this resolution.
I am truly amazed that a resolution that is not directed at modern Turkey should garnish such attention.And you wonder, something that happened 90 years ago, why all of a sudden there is so much attention to this resolution that is not even binding.The genocide happened; over 2 million people.Why not admit it, move on?
Every country has had their dark periods.
SIRES:Most countries have acknowledged it.But somebody has got to speak for these people that I see in front of me; these women that are over 90 years old.They have a history.I wish I could talk to them so they can tell me what they went through.
Why not acknowledge it and move on?And I certainly appreciate the relationship that we have with Turkey.But I feel pressured -- I feel like I have a Turkish sword over my head somehow if I vote the wrong way here.And I don't like that feeling.
Because the relationship between Turkey and the United States is as important as the relationship for Turkey with the United States.I am in support of this resolution.I think it's important that history records it, so maybe it doesn't happen again just like the Holocaust -- to make sure it doesn't happen again.
So, I am in support this resolution and I yield the rest of my time to my friend from New York, Congressman Ackerman.
REP. GARY L. ACKERMAN, D-N.Y.:Thank the gentleman, my good friend from New Jersey.
One of our colleagues cited that there were three actors in this play:us, the Armenians and the Turks.I would say and remind us that truth, too, is on this stage.Do not banish truth from this stage.
Several of our colleagues cited scripture.I'm not one who usually does that in public.But in response to the citation that there is a time for everything and everything in its season, truth is never out of season.It is always the season for truth.
And for those who claim that the time to do this is wrong, I would ask you to look at the four young ladies sitting here in wheelchairs who had help getting up this morning and getting into those chairs and onto planes and coming down here after living almost 100 years a piece and tell them when to come back to this room for justice.What time can they come back?
Please think of the consequences -- the full consequences of what we do -- the damage that we would do to history as you cast your votes today.This is not the time to study -- it was laughable when Ahmadinejad said at Columbia University, Well, maybe we should have scholars study this.
The only thing that that does is put it off to a future day when the timing will be bad as well.Please, do your duty to honor justice; honor the truth; recognize history.There is no wrong time to do that.
Thank the gentleman for his time.I yield back.
LANTOS:I want to thank all of my colleagues for -- Mr. Klein, you'd like to be recognized?
REP. RON KLEIN, D-FLA.:Yes, Mr. Chairman.Thank you.
We've had a tremendous discussion, debate and expressions of why people are going to vote the way they're going to vote today.
KLEIN:And I'll just share mine for just a minute or two.
I think many of us in this room are students of history.We studied history.Many people in this room lived the history that we're discussing in this resolution today.
But my experience has been through the study of the Holocaust. And in Florida, where I was in state legislature, I worked with many people in the community, including a number of < Armenian > residents, to require teaching the Holocaust in our public schools.
And it wasn't so much of just teaching the Holocaust, but teaching of what happens when man's inhumanity is allowed to fester over a period of time, and the result was the Holocaust and other genocides that have occurred before and after.
And I think the reason that I believe it is important that this historical event is acknowledged and understood is what the survivors of the Holocaust use as their two-word phrase:Never again.Never again.
And I know the people that survived the < Armenian > genocide, the families, and other situations since that time also believed never again, but yet we live in a world today that we continue to allow these things to exist.
The more we can learn from our past, the more we can educate our children, our adults, our grandparents, the more we can learn from these experiences in our country and around the world, and we can be a beacon along with other countries of high moral values and understanding that this is unacceptable on so many levels, the better we will be and the better our children will be and future generations will be.And it's going to take vigilance to do that.
I also understand the importance of the Turkish relationship with the United States and with our allies in the Middle East.And I can't speculate what is going to happen.I don't think any of us can do that.We've heard signals, we've heard expressions.
I would only hope that we who recognize -- and I think this entire Congress and most of the United States recognizes that the Turkish country, the Turkish government of today, is a very important ally of the United States.They provide support for our military, they work with us in intelligence, and they're friends of our friends in the Middle East.
We need to continue to have that relationship with them, and hopefully this will not provide any long-term disruption, hopefully not even any short-term, because they need us and we need them.
KLEIN:And I stand ready to do what we need to do to make sure that Turkey understands that message.This is an historical situation that took place in a different time, in a different government.But there still needs to be a historical recognition and acknowledgement.
My friends who came forward and asked me to support this Armenian population in my community said: This is not about reparations; this is not about restitution.This is about an historical acknowledgement.
I take them at their words for that; that this is not going to open up some future discussion about that.But the point is that this is an important moment in time that we recognize what did happen. There was loss of life.There was terrible inhumanity.And, for that reason, I will support this resolution today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
LANTOS:I believe every colleague who wished to be heard had an opportunity to speak.Before calling for a vote, I wish to advise everyone that at the next markup it is my intention to bring forth a resolution reaffirming the friendship and alliance between Turkey and the United States of America.
Let me also say to all of my colleagues, this was one of the finest hours of the Foreign Affairs Committee and I'm deeply proud of every single member of this committee.
Chairman is prepared to receive a motion from the gentleman from California, Mr. Sherman.
REP. BRAD SHERMAN, D-CALIF.:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.I move the favorable recommendation of H. Res. 106 to the House.
LANTOS:The clerk will read the roll.
CLERK:Chairman Lantos votes yes.
CLERK:Mr. Berman votes yes.
CLERK:Mr. Ackerman votes yes.
DEL. ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, D-AM. SAMOA:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Faleomavaega votes yes.
REP. DONALD M. PAYNE, D-N.J.:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Payne votes yes.
CLERK:Mr. Sherman votes yes.
REP. ROBERT WEXLER, D-FLA.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Wexler votes no.
REP. ELIOT L. ENGEL, D-N.Y.:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Engel votes yes.
Mr. Delahunt votes yes.
REP. DIANE WATSON, D-CALIF.:Yes.
CLERK:Ms. Watson votes yes.
Mr. Smith of Washington?
REP. ADAM SMITH, D-WASH.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Smith of Washington votes no.
CLERK:Mr. Carnahan votes no.
REP. JOHN TANNER, D-TENN.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Tanner votes no.
REP. GENE GREEN, D-TEXAS:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Green votes yes.
REP. LYNN WOOLSEY, D-CALIF.:Yes.
CLERK:Ms. Woolsey votes yes.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE, D-TEXAS:Aye.
CLERK:Ms. Jackson-Lee votes yes.
REP. RUBEN HINOJOSA, D-TEXAS:No.
CLERK:Mr. Hinojosa votes no.
REP. JOSEPH CROWLEY, D-N.Y.:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Crowley votes yes.
REP. DAVID WU, D-ORE.:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Wu votes yes.
REP. BRAD MILLER, D-N.C.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Miller votes no.
REP. LINDA T. SANCHEZ, D-CALIF.:Aye.
CLERK:Ms. Sanchez votes yes.
REP. DAVID SCOTT, D-GA.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Scott votes no.
REP. JIM COSTA, D-CALIF.:Aye.
CLERK:Mr. Costa votes yes.
REP. ALBIO SIRES, D-N.J.:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Sires votes yes.
CLERK:Mr. Klein votes yes.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, R-FLA. RANKING MEMBER:No.
CLERK:Ms. Ros-Lehtinen votes no.
Mr. Smith of New Jersey?
REP. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, R-N.J.:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Smith of New Jersey votes yes.
REP. DAN BURTON, R-IND.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Burton votes no.
CLERK:Mr. Rohrabacher votes yes.
CLERK:Mr. Royce votes yes.
REP. STEVE CHABOT, R-OHIO:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Chabot votes yes.
REP. ROY BLUNT, R-MO.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Blunt votes no.
CLERK:Mr. Tancredo votes no.
REP. JEFF FLAKE, R-ARIZ.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Flake votes no.
REP. MIKE PENCE, R-IND.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Pence votes no.
REP. JOHN BOOZMAN, R-ARK.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Boozman votes no.
REP. J. GRESHAM BARRETT, R-S.C.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Barrett votes no.
REP. CONNIE MACK, R-FLA.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Mack votes no.
REP. JEFF FORTENBERRY, R-NEB.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Fortenberry votes no.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, R-TEXAS:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. McCaul votes yes.
REP. TED POE, R-TEXAS:No.
CLERK:Mr. Poe votes no.
REP. BOB INGLIS, R-S.C.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Inglis votes no.
DEL. LUIS FORTUNO, R-P.R.:No.
CLERK:Mr. Fortuno votes no.
REP. GUS BILIRAKIS, R-FLA.:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Bilirakis votes yes.
LANTOS:Have all members voted?
MEEKS:Am I recorded?
CLERK:You are not recorded.
CLERK:Mr. Meeks votes no.
REP. DONALD MANZULLO, R-ILL:Yes.
CLERK:Mr. Manzullo votes yes.
LANTOS:Are there any other members who wish to be recorded?
If not, the clerk will report.
REP. ELTON GALLEGLY, R-CALIF.:Mr. Chairman?
LANTOS:Mr. Gallegly wishes to be recorded.
CLERK:Mr. Gallegly votes yes.
LANTOS:Clerk will report.
CLERK:On this vote, there are 26 ayes and 21 nays.
LANTOS:The ayes have it.The resolution...
LANTOS:I will have to ask the audience to respect the dignity of this committee room.And I will give the opportunity to my colleagues to cast a vote.
CLERK:Ms. Giffords votes yes.
The new total is 27 ayes and 21 nays.
BURTON:Mr. Chairman, I request that members be allowed two additional calendar days to file additional dissenting or minority views.
LANTOS:Without objection, so ordered.
The ayes have it.The resolution is adopted and this markup session is adjourned.