Monday, December 28, 2009

Clinton, Congressmen and ANCA re: Turkey, Erdogan v. China, Turkey and Nabucco

This was first published in July 18, 2009 Armenian Reporter

Washington Briefing
by Emil Sanamyan

"America's mission in the world today [is] to exercise American leadership to solve problems in concert with others," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared as she outlined U.S. foreign policy priorities in a July 15 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mrs. Clinton suggested that the United States was not concerned by what many U.S. experts see as the growing influence of regional powers, and she argued, "just as no nation can meet these [global] challenges alone, no challenge can be met without America."

"We will also put special emphasis on encouraging major and emerging global powers - China, India, Russia, and Brazil, as well as Turkey, Indonesia, and South Africa - to be full partners in tackling the global agenda," Mrs. Clinton said.

Last month, leaders of Brazil, China, India, and Russia, the so-called BRIC countries, held an inaugural gathering in the Russian city of Yekatirinburg and pledged cooperation in challenging U.S. dominance in the world politics.

Turkey, the only NATO member among the countries listed by Mrs. Clinton, has increasingly promoted policies that are frequently at odds with U.S. goals. Underscoring Washington's interest in Ankara, both Secretary Clinton and President Barack Obama paid visits to Turkey within months of coming to office.

"These states are vital to achieving solutions to the shared problems and advancing our priorities - nonproliferation, counterterrorism, economic growth, climate change, among others," Mrs. Clinton went on. "With these states, we will stand firm on our principles even as we seek common ground."

Members of Congress raise concerns with Armenia-Turkey “road-map”

In a proposed letter to President Barack Obama, leading congressional advocates of Armenian-American issues charged Turkey with reneging on a commitment to normalize relations with Armenia and urged the administration "to separate the issues of normalization and genocide recognition."

The text of the letter, co-authored by Reps. Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.), Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.), Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), and George Radanovich (R.-Calif.) was circulated on July 10 to secure additional congressional co-signers, according to an electronic copy shared with the Armenian Reporter. [See editorial, "Ask your representative to sign the letter on Armenia-Turkey relations."]

Citing preconditions that Turkish leaders have repeatedly reiterated since the "road-map" for normalization was first announced on April 22, members of Congress argued that "Turkey, in an effort to block U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, agreed to a roadmap it did not intend to uphold."

The letter concluded with an expression of "hope that renewed efforts and focused resources from the Administration can be utilized to nurture the Armenia-Turkey normalization process without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe, and continue to remain strongly supportive of your stated campaign policy to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide."

Mr. Obama avoided using the term genocide in his April 24 statement, citing the joint statement by Armenia and Turkey made public two days earlier.

ANCA denounces “pressure” on Armenia regarding Karabakh

In a sign of further disappointment with the Obama administration's policy on Armenian issues, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has expressed "profound disappointment" over what it termed "undue and unreasonable pressure being applied in a heavy-handed manner upon Armenia" by the United States, along with France and Russia, "to force unilateral and dangerous concessions by Armenians regarding the Nagorno Karabagh conflict."

The July 14 letter by ANCA chairperson Kenneth Hachikian was the second such communication by the ANCA within two months. On May 18, Mr. Hachikian charged Barack Obama with a "grave offense" against Armenian-Americans over his failure to fulfill pre-election promises to recognize the Armenian Genocide and maintain U.S. support for Armenia.

This week's letter was in reference to a joint statement by the presidents of France, Russia, and the United States, issued on July 10, which called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to agree to "basic principles" of a settlement, on terms that have been met with widespread criticism in Armenia.

Erdogan sees “nearly genocide” in China

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan characterized recent clashes in China's northwestern Xiniang province as "nearly genocide," news agencies reported.

The apparently ethnically motivated clashes between Han Chinese and Turkic Uighurs there last week left at least 156 people dead.

Mr. Erdogan's choice of words at the July 10 press conference contrasted with his repeated denials that deaths of more than a million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey could constitute genocide. The comments came as Turkish nationalists held daily anti-China protests.

The Turkish leader also promised to raise concerns over what many Turks see as Chinese oppression of Uighurs at the United Nation Security Council, where Turkey is currently a member.

The comments have elicited criticism by Chinese officials.

People's Daily, the newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, charged Mr. Erdogan with "twisting facts" and making an "irresponsible and groundless accusation."

A Chinese Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying that the government was "following up on the reactions" from Turkey.

Turkey agrees with Europeans over gas transit

After months of disagreements, Turkey signed a deal with Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Austria to serve as a transit point for natural gas supplies to Europe, news agencies reported.

The July 13 agreement removed a major roadblock toward the construction of what is known as the Nabucco gas pipeline, championed by the United States and the European Union as a way to ease Europeans' reliance on natural-gas supplies from Russia.

By agreeing to the project in principle, Turkey is seen as favoring the West over the Russian-proposed South Stream pipeline.

The gas is expected to come initially from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, as well as Iraq, whose energy sector was recently opened to foreign companies. Russia has in turn been seeking to buy up Central Asian gas to keep its dominant share of European markets.

Russia is the world's largest gas producer. Iran is the second-largest, but it has been largely shut out of European markets due to Western sanctions.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Bryza, who was present at the signing in Ankara, argued that the Nabucco line can be filled by Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Iraq, without Iran taking part.

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