U.S. House of Representatives to back off its objection to
recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The White House also opposes
the bill. And so begins the fight to save the Schiff Amendment to a
foreign aid bill.
On Thursday, the House approved an amendment to the Foreign
Operations Appropriations Bill, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff
(D-Burbank), that would prevent Turkey from using foreign aid funds
to lobby against a House resolution that would recognize the Armenian
Genocide from 1915 to 1923.
The amendment is more symbolic than substantive. Foreign countries
are not allowed to use such funds to lobby Congress for anything. But
by proposing the vote in a late session Thursday, Schiff brought a
genocide-related vote to the House floor for the first time.
"Something should be done," said George Asaker, sitting outside a
Brand Boulevard coffee shop. "They recognized the Jewish [Holocaust],
they should recognize the Armenian Genocide and anything else."
From 1915 to 1923, 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the
Ottoman Turks. Turkish officials claim the number of deaths is
overstated, and that the deaths were not the result of genocide.
Because Turkey is a military ally, the United States has never
acknowledged it as a genocide.
Armenian Americans seem more concerned with recognition than
Armenians in Armenia. Stepan Demirchian, defeated by incumbent Robert
Kocharyan in Armenia's presidential elections in March 2003,
downplayed the genocide recognition while meeting with Glendale's
City Council on Tuesday.
"It's on our agenda," said Demirchian, who said he will probably
run again in 2008, when Kocharyan's term expires. "We can't forget
our history. In the meantime, it doesn't mean we make it a
precondition for normalizing our ties with Turkey."
Bush Administration officials immediately began fighting Schiff's
amendment. The State Department, Speaker of the House J. Dennis
Hastert (R-Ill.), House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and House
Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) all issued statements condemning
Schiff's amendment and promising to remove the amendment from the