Turkey summons U.S. ambassador after U.S. House recognizes Armenian genocide
Despite the U.S. measure being nonbinding, Turkey slams it as 'slander'
Turkey on Wednesday condemned two resolutions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that symbolize deteriorating Turkish-American relations.
Addressing his ruling party, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he wouldn't recognize the non-binding House resolution to recognize the century-old mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide. The bill passed 405-11.
Erdogan then said Turkey "strongly condemns" a bipartisan bill to sanction senior Turkish officials and its army for Turkey's incursion into northeastern Syria that passed 403-16.
Both bills, passed Tuesday, were a sign of further deterioration in Turkish-American relations, which have been strained over multiple issues, especially U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish fighters considered terrorists by Ankara.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry said that it summoned U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield on Wednesday over the resolutions.
Turkey disputes the description of mass deportations and killings of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as genocide and has lobbied against its recognition in the U.S. for years. It has instead called for a joint committee of historians to investigate the events.
"We are saddened that a slander against our country is being accepted by a country's parliament."
He said "we would consider this accusation the biggest insult towards our nation."
Canada, along with dozens of other countries as well as a United Nations commission, the European Parliament and the Vatican have formally recognized Armenian genocide.
Motion punishment for Syria: Erdogan
The step to consider the events as genocide "does not count for anything," Erdogan argued, saying American lawmakers had acted "opportunistically" to pass the bill at a time when Turkey is being widely criticized for its incursion into Syria.
Turkey's cross-border offensive, which Ankara says is necessary for its national security, began on Oct. 9 after months of Turkish threats and a sudden decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw troops and abandon Kurdish allies against ISIS. Trump's move was widely criticized by both Republicans and the Democrats.
Turkey and allied Syrian fighters paused operations with two separate cease-fires brokered by the U.S. and Russia to allow the Kurdish fighters to withdraw 30 kilometres away from the Turkish border.
The second bill sanctioning Turkey shows the bipartisan disapproval of Trump's decision and condemns Turkey's offensive. The measure would bar most U.S. weapons sales to Turkey and slap sanctions on foreigners attempting to send the Turks military equipment. It would also block high-ranking Turkish officials from their assets in the U.S. and restrict their travel here.
"We will never accept those who attack Turkey and myself for the sake of supporting the PKK, which is a terror organization that is the killer of tens of thousands of people," Erdogan said.
He was referring to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has waged a 35-year armed insurgency in Turkey's southeast and eastern regions. The Syrian Kurdish forces are linked to the group and follow the same ideological leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who is imprisoned in Turkey.