WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ) offered a scathing indictment of Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s escalating repression at home and aggression abroad in a 15-minute Senate floor speech during which he called for immediate Senate passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.Res.150) and Senate consideration of far-reaching sanctions over Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria.
Sen. Menendez’s remarks come as the ANCA continues its nationwide campaign to urge Senate passage of S.Res.150, building on the historic near-unanimous House passage of a similar measure (H.Res.296) last week. Advocates can thank House members who supported the measure, urge Senators to take action and ask President Trump to clearly and properly condemn this crime – all through one unified online action.
“We join with Senator Menendez in predicting a crushing defeat for Armenian Genocide denial on the floor of the U.S. Senate – where an overwhelming bipartisan majority is ready – eager in fact – to vote for S.Res.150, if and when they are given the opportunity to do so by Majority Leader McConnell,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Please join with friends across all fifty states in calling on your two U.S. Senators to press for passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution,” continued Hamparian.
“Today, I would like to lay out a fact pattern that so many of my colleagues have come to see in recent weeks – that Turkey under Erdogan should not, Turkey under Erdogan cannot be seen as an ally,” stated Senator Menendez, who cited Turkey’s invasion of northern Cyprus, ongoing belligerence in the Eastern Mediterranean against Greece, the 2017 Erdogan-ordered attacks against peaceful protesters in Washington, DC among that government’s many acts of aggression.
“As momentum builds following the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution in the House, Turkish lobbyists are working overtime to block it in the Senate,” explained Senator Menendez. “Because they know that if this resolution were to come to the floor for a vote, it would pass resoundingly and send a clarion message that recognizes the truth. The Armenian genocide happened, it was a monstrous act and those who deny it are complicit in a terrible lie. The Senate should not bow to this pressure, it cannot bow to this pressure. Let’s pass this resolution today,” added Sen. Menendez.
Video of Sen. Menendez’s remarks was presented live on the ANCA’s Facebook page and shared broadly through a Greek and Armenian American effort led by the Hellenic American Leadership Council and the ANCA.
Sen. Menendez was joined by Sen. Ted Cruz in spearheading the Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.Res.150), which currently has over 20 co-sponsors. Like H.Res.296, the resolution establishes, as a matter of U.S. policy, 1) the rejection of Armenian Genocide denial, 2) ongoing official U.S. government recognition and remembrance of this crime, and 3) support for education about the Armenian Genocide in order to help prevent modern-day atrocities.
Just one day following Sen. Menendez’s floor remarks, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair James Risch (R-ID) stated that he would postpone any discussion of sanctions against Turkey pending President Erdogan’s visit to Washington, DC on November 13. Earlier in the day, President Trump tweeted that the meeting would take place, following a phone call with the Turkish President.
The announcement confirming the Erdogan-Trump meeting also followed statements by unnamed State Department sources noting opposition to the H.Res.296 and a Turkey sanctions measure adopted by the U.S. House on October 29.
“President Trump is pursuing of a Turkey-first foreign policy, blocking bipartisan sanctions, enforcing Ankara’s Armenian Genocide gag-rule, enabling its domestic crackdown and regional aggression, and – now – rewarding Erdogan for a high-profile White House visit,” noted Hamparian, following a Bloomberg news accounts announcing State Department opposition a week after the measure was passed. “The Senate should follow the House’s lead, upholding U.S. interests and American values by enacting Turkey sanctions and adopting the Armenian Genocide Resolution, S.Res.150,” added Hamparian.
The ANC of New Jersey has been a staunch ally of Senator Menendez dating back to his first election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992.