Affirmative denial of the Armenian Genocide - as well as denial of similar aggression directed in the past at millions of Greeks, Assyrians and other religious minorities -- compromises Turkey's ability to tell the positive story of its economic and political progress in recent years. It also reinforces international perceptions that Turkey is still governed by a repressive impulse - one that continues to be directed at those of its peoples who do not comply with a rigid definition of "Turkishness." For years, Turkey has discriminated against its largest ethnic minority by outlawing the Kurdish language, suppressing the Kurdish culture, and officially classifying Kurds as Mountain Turks, or Eastern Turks. Even the religious liberties of Turkey's Muslim majority are subjected to discriminatory state controls.

In Congress, there is significant support for recognizing the Armenian Genocide, but sponsors of a resolution to do just that have been thwarted by Turkey's relentless lobbying campaign. Threatening all manner of retaliation should the resolution pass, Turkey has convinced some members that such action would imperil Turkish-American relations. The United States should be confident enough about the mutual stake both parties have in their relationship to know otherwise. Furthermore, the experience of other nations suggests there is every reason to believe that America's recognition of the Armenian Genocide will ultimately enhance, not damage, its relations with Turkey. The European Parliament and the legislatures of more than twenty countries including Canada, France, Italy, and Russia, have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. Turkey has not halted its attempts to join the European Union, and its political and economic relationship with each of these countries has only grown since their Genocide recognition.

By speaking candidly to our ally, we can encourage Turkey to face the dark chapters of its past and abandon the destructive ventures of its present, such as the ongoing state-sanctioned discrimination against the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the continued occupation of the Republic of Cyprus and the disenfranchisement of the Kurdish minority. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide can serve as a catalyst in securing Turkey's status as a European democracy worthy of full European Union membership.

ADVERTISEMENT

I have heard the common refrain: "It's just not a good time." That excuse - and it is only an excuse - can always be trotted out based on one or another issue that may be pending between the United States and Turkey. But that excuse ignores the moral imperative to recognize the Genocide and misunderstands that such recognition will actually enhance Turkish-American relations and advance America's strategic interests.

For the sake of its core values and in true furtherance of its strategic interests, the United States must take a deep breath, look its ally Turkey in the eye, and recognize the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide to be an unambiguous fact of history.

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post.