The president ‘not interested’ in tilting Armenia-Turkey negotiations in one way or another
ANKARA, Turkey (A.W.)—On Mon., April 6, President Barack Obama met with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara.
Following the meeting, and after making a statement to the press, Obama called on Christi Parsons from the Chicago Trubune’s Washington Bureau to ask a question. Parson’s said, “As a U.S. Senator, you stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey’s acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. And you also supported the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. You said, as president, you would recognizer the genocide. My question to you is: Have you change your view? And did you ask President Gul to recognize the genocide by name?”
“My views are on the record and I have not changed views,” Obama answered. “What I have been very encouraged by is news that under President Gul’s leadership, we are seeing a series of negotiations, a process in place between Armenia and Turkey to resolve a whole host of long-standing issues, including this one,” he added.
Talking about his role in this process, he said, “I want to be as encouraging as possible around those negotiations, which are moving forward and could bear fruit very quickly, very soon. And as a consequence, what I want to do is not focus on my views, but focus on the views of the Turkish and the Armenian people, if they can move forward and deal with a difficult and tragic history, then I think the entire world should encourage them. So what I told the president was I want to be as constructive as possible in moving these issues forward quickly. And my sense is that they are moving quickly. I don’t want to, as the president of the United States, to preempt any possible arrangements or announcements that might be made in the near future. I just want to say that we are going to be a partner in working through these issue in such a way that the most important parties, the Turks and the Armenians, are finally coming to terms in the most constructive way.”
Parsons followed up by asking, “So if I understand you correctly, your view hasn’t changed, but you’ll put in advance the issue of whether to use that word in the future?” Obama answered, “What I’d like to do is encourage President Gul to move forward with what have been some very fruitful negotiations. I’m not interested in the United States in any way tilting these negotiations in one way or another, while they [Armenia and Turkey] are having useful discussions.”
“In his remarks today in Ankara, President Obama missed a valuable opportunity to honor his public pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA executive director Aram Hamparian on April 6. “The president’s willingness to raise his commitment to recognizing the Armenian Genocide, even indirectly, in his remarks before the Turkish Parliament represents a step in the right direction, but far short of the clear promise he made as a candidate that he would, as president, fully and unequivocally recognize this crime against humanity. We expect that the president will, during Genocide Prevention Month this April, stand by his word, signaling to the world that America’s commitment to the cause of genocide prevention will never again be held hostage to pressures from a foreign government,” he added.