Turkey Condemns US House Bills on Sanctions, Armenians


    30 October, 2019

    Turkey has objected to legislation passed by the United States House of Representatives.

    The Turkish foreign ministry said it called a meeting with the U.S. ambassador in Ankara after the House approved the legislation on Tuesday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country's parliament will answer the action, but gave no other details.

    One bill is aimed at punishing Turkish officials involved in the decision to send Turkish troops into northern Syria. Supporters of the bill say the Turkish offensive resulted in human rights abuses against ethnic Kurds in the area.

    The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 403 to 16.

    Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey "strongly condemns" the sanctions against Turkish officials and its army.

    The other piece of legislation confirms U.S. recognition of the century-old mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide. That resolution passed by a vote of 405 to 11.

    Historians estimate that 1.5 million Armenians were killed between 1915 and 1923. At the time, Armenians were a Christian minority in the Ottoman Empire.

    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters after the bills passed that "Turkey has not come to grips that this was a genocide."

    Turkey has long objected to the use of the word genocide to describe what took place to Armenians after World War I. Erdogan said that Turkey does not recognize the non-binding resolution and added that it has no value to the country. He described the measure as "slander."

    Turkey is one of the 29 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Turkish foreign ministry said that the U.S. measures did not agree "with the spirit of our NATO alliance."

    A result of Turkey's entry into northern Syria

    Displaced Kurds stuck at a border after a Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria, wait to try cross to the Iraqi side, at the Semalka crossing, next Derik city, Syria, Oct. 21, 2019.
    Displaced Kurds stuck at a border after a Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria, wait to try cross to the Iraqi side, at the Semalka crossing, next Derik city, Syria, Oct. 21, 2019.

    U.S. President Donald Trump ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month. That move cleared the way for Turkey to send troops into the area with the aim of driving out Syrian Kurdish fighters. The Kurds have been allies of the U.S. military in efforts to fight Islamic State militants. However, Turkey accuses them of being allied with Kurdish separatists, who Turkey considers terrorists.

    The U.S. Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act would prevent sales of arms to Turkey for use in Syria. It would punish Turkish financial organizations involved in the military. It also would require the U.S. government to report on Erdogan's finances.

    House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel is a Democrat from New York State. He says the bill is a way to ensure that Erdogan faces consequences for Turkish actions in Syria.

    Earlier this month, the House passed a resolution condemning the Trump administration's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Trump announced that the U.S government had negotiated a permanent cease-fire in Syria last week. He also lifted sanctions on Turkey that were put in place after its troops entered northern Syria.

    The Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act now moves to the U.S. Senate, where it will face a vote. It must be signed by the president before becoming law.

    I'm Mario Ritter Jr.

    Dorian Jones reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted he story for VOA Learning English with additional reporting from the Associated Press and Reuters. George Grow was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    sanctions – n. measures taken to force a country to obey international law usually by limiting trade or targeting officials

    come to grips – idiom to understand or deal with something in a direct or effective way

    non-bindingadj. having no legal force

    slander – n. the act of making a false spoken statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone

    consequence – n. a produce or result

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