Turkey recalls its ambassador after House panel passes genocide resolution

The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the resolution in an extremely close 23-22 vote, which could send the measure to the House floor.

The resolution would recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during World War I as genocide.


Turkey's government condemened the adoption of the resolution and warned it could set back U.S. relations with Turkey, a key U.S. ally in a dangerous part of the world. It said Ambassador Namik Tan was being withdrawn for consultations. 

"Those who support this draft resolution have adopted a wrong and unfair attitude with political motives while ignoring the historical truths and differences of opinion among the expert historians on the subject," the government said in a statement.

Turkey warned the adoption of the resolution could "affect our cooperation on a wide common agenda with the United States," and said this attested to a "lack of strategic vision."

The resolution was also approved by the committee in 2007, and Turkey at that time also recalled its ambassador.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided against bringing the measure to the floor the last time it was approved in committee.

The White House came out against the resolution, warning it could upend the delicate process of normalizing relations between Turkey and Armenia. 

President Barack Obama said during the 2008 presidential campaign that he would recognize the killiings as genocide, but has avoided the term since his election and did not use it during a trip to Turkey. 

Despite the White House opposition, Democrats on the committee moved forward. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) cast the deciding vote after returning from a White House meeting on healthcare.

Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) pledged to press ahead for a floor vote.

“At some point, all nations must come to grips with their own history and that’s all we ask of Turkey,” Berman said. 

Other members switched their positions.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) voted for the resolution the last time it was considered by the committee by 2007 but he decided against it this time. He said he changed his vote because of the reconciliation process established between Turkey and Armenia.

Rep. David Schiff (D-Calif.), the sponsor of the resolution, said he was proud that the committee moved on the measure.

"The next step is we need to make we will work well and hard and we can count the votes,” Schiff said. “The schedule will be dictated by how quickly we can count the votes.”

Ian Swanson contributed to this story.

This story was updated at 6:43 p.m.