The News Anatolian, Turkey
April 28 2005


Bush's Armenian message was clear: US could not risk losing Turkey
By SENEM CAGLAYAN

The message given by the statement of U.S. President George W. Bush
on April 24 was clear: The U.S. cannot risk losing Turkey right now.
Although the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) started a
campaign months before April 24, the date they claim for the 90th
anniversary of the so-called Armenian genocide, a campaign pushing
President Bush to recognize their claims in his annual statement, and
even won the support of over 200 U.S. congressmen, Bush did not use
the word "genocide," since Washington is in no hurry to alienate or
even lose Turkey.

The lack of recognition of the Armenian claims by Bush doesn't mean
that the U.S. President does not believe in the "genocide"
allegations. The truth is that he could not risk increasing the
tension between Turkey and the U.S., in a relationship that has been
rocky of late.

Moreover, Bush's avoidance of the "g" word does nothing to prevent
the Armenian lobby from bringing the controversial claims to a vote
in the U.S. Congress. If a recognition proposal ever comes to a vote,
it stands a good chance of approval by the Congress since 210
congressmen - 178 representatives and 32 senators - are on record
backing the claims.

The U.S. House of Representatives has 435 members, and the Senate
100.

Also, 30 of the 50 U.S. states have previously recognized the
Armenian claims, and on Sunday former actor and California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger declared April 24 a "Day of Remembrance of the
Armenian Genocide" in his state, which has a large population of
ethnic Armenians.

The campaign of the Armenian lobby started months before April 24
with messages and letters to Washington urging Bush to explicitly
recognize the so-called Armenian genocide claims. While the lobby
called for U.S. recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide
claims, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan rejected an Ankara
proposal for a joint commission of Turkish and Armenian historians to
investigate the controversial problem.

The Armenians claimed in their letters that during the 2000
presidential election campaign, President Bush promised that he would
recognize the so-called Armenian genocide.

U.S. presidents on April 24 traditionally issue some sort of
statement to commemorate the pain and sorrow that Armenians faced at
the end of World War I, but no president to date - Bush included -
has explicitly called the disputed events a "genocide." But in their
letter bombardment this year, the Armenian lobby made an all-out
effort for Bush to recognize the "genocide" claims.

They were successful in winning the support of 210 members of the
U.S. Congress who signed a letter to Bush asking him to recognize the
Armenian claims.

In a last-minute push, Armenians were bussed into Washington en masse
on last Thursday for a memorial ceremony of the 90th anniversary of
the so-called genocide at the U.S. Congress.

Despite this steady barrage of propagandizing from the Armenian
lobby, they were not successful in urging Bush to recognize their
claims, since Bush did not use the "g" word in his annual statement.

It is clear that Washington is not ready to lose one of its closest
allies in the Middle East region - Turkey. There are three factors
behind this:

First of all, the U.S. needs to continue its presence at the Incirlik
Military Airbase to carry out its agenda in the Middle East and
specifically to continue its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Turkey could be considered the starting point of Washington's Greater
Middle East Initiative (GME), which shapes the U.S.' policy towards
the Middle East. Thus, the U.S. needs friendly relations with Turkey
to properly use the Incirlik base in its actions in the Middle East.

Although Turkey is a Muslim country, its secular, democratic
governing system is also an important asset for U.S. promotion of the
GME. The U.S. frequently cites Turkey as an example proving that
Muslim countries can lead a democratic way of life.

The second factor behind Bush's statement is Washington's ongoing aim
of making Turkey unilaterally dependant on the U.S. The aim of this
policy is to make Turkey economically dependant on the U.S., since
Turkey is a big market for the U.S. goods and services and a cheap
place for U.S. firms to make investments. In line with this policy,
the U.S. both supports Turkey's membership in the European Union and
tries to leave Turkey economically dependant on it.

Thirdly, Washington does not want to exacerbate tensions between the
U.S. and Turkey during this critical period, since the U.S. is sure
that it needs the support of Turkey, especially in its operations in
Iraq and Afghanistan and in attaining peace and stability in the
Middle East. It is also aware of the growing anti-American sentiment
within Turkey which threatens to spoil all its plans in the region.