Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday lambasted U.S. lawmakers for pursuing a resolution that would label his country's treatment of Armenians after World War I as a "genocide."
That declaration, approved Thursday by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, could only serve to damage U.S.-Turkish relations, the prime minister said.
Erdogan later decried the effort as a "parody," and he stressed his country would in no way be "deterred" by U.S. lawmakers' forthcoming proclamation.
"Let me say quite clearly that this resolution will not harm us," he told a business group. "But it will damage bilateral relations between countries, their interests and their visions for the future. We will not be the losers."
Despite the issue's high profile, there been little movement in the United States to recognize the killing of almost 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1917 as a genocide.
The delay stems in part from the belief that such a proclamation would deter Turkey from cooperating further with the White House in the fight against regional terrorism. Former President George Bush campaigned against the resolution on those grounds in late 2007, imploring the House Foreign Affairs Committee to reconsider a label that would only serve to do "great harm to relations with a key ally in NATO."
Interestingly enough, then-Sen. Barack Obama signaled on the 2008 campaign trail that, "as president I will recognize the Armenian genocide." But this week, the Obama administration has tried to derail that effort, citing concerns that the resolution will only reverse months of progress in Turkish-American relations.
It is unclear whether lawmakers share that view. Turkey, however, signaled this week that it certainly does: Erdogan on Thursday recalled its ambassador to the United States.