Senate passes resolution to formally 'commemorate the Armenian Genocide'

Standing next to US President Donald Trump at the White House in November 2019 Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that

US Senate officially recognizes century-old Armenian genocide

The Trump administration had asked Republican senators to block similar requests to pass the measure several times in the last few weeks on the grounds that it could undercut negotiations with Turkey.

The resolution does not require President Trump's signature, because it is nonbinding.

Turkey has lobbied for years against U.S. recognition of the killings of Ottoman Armenians as genocide, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will not recognize the congressional resolution.

Trump had cast his November 13 meeting with Erdogan as "wonderful" despite no concrete breakthrough on deep disagreements such as Ankara's purchase of Russian weapon systems and diverging views on Syria policy.

After the House passed a broader Turkey sanctions bill 403-16 in October, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., indicated that he would not put the legislation on the floor, arguing that it was too broad and unlikely to alter Ankara's behavior.

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Co-sponsored by Democratic Sen.

Earlier this month, Republican Sen.

Bob Menendez. "It commemorates the truth of the Armenian genocide". "Senators in this body should have the simple courage to say it plainly, say it clearly, and say it without reservation". On Thursday, however, there were no objections, clearing that way for the resolution's approval. The resolution, spearheaded by California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff of California, does not need approval from the White House. On Thursday, lawmakers voted to officially recognize and commemorate the genocide, which took place in the Ottoman Empire back in 1915.

On Oct. 29, the anniversary of the Turkish Republic, the House voted 405-11 in favor of the resolution to recognize alleged killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Many scholars see it as the 20th century's first genocide. Turkey disputes the description, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of a civil war.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus worldwide experts to examine the issue.

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The passage of today's resolution marks another significant victory for both the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Assembly of America, which respectively spent at least $90,000 and $80,000 this year lobbying Congress to recognize the genocide, among other issues.

"In every previous attempt to politicize history by some members of the US Congress, we reiterated our position to form a group to study it", Fahrettin Altun, Turkey's communications director said on Twitter in response to the resolution.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the decision a "political show" while presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara strongly condemned and rejected the measure, according to Reuters.

US Congressional aides said the White House does not want the legislation to move ahead while it negotiates with Ankara on sensitive issues. Republican senators have been incensed with Turkey's purchase of the S-400, which the United States says poses a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and can not be integrated into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defenses.

U.S. legislators were outraged in October when Turkey announced plans to launch a military operation to push American-backed Kurdish fighters away from its border in northern Syria.

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