Senate blocks resolution on Armenian 'genocide'

Feb. 27, 1990

WASHINGTON -- The Senate rejected for a second time Tuesday an effort to force a vote on a resolution strongly opposed by Turkey that says an Ottoman Empire policy of genocide caused the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians.

Senate Republican leader Robert Dole of Kansas sought to cut off a filibuster by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., blocking a direct vote on the resolution, which is opposed by President Bush.

The Senate voted 51-48, 12 short of the 60 votes necessary to stop the filibuster against commemorating April 24 as a National Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Genocide.

The motion failed last Thursday, 49-49. It was uncertain if Dole would try to bring the issue before the Senate again.

Dole's, whose severe World War II wounds were treated by an Armenian-American physician, said the resolution is not intended as an insult to the Republic of Turkey. The republic was founded after untold numbers of Armenians died of violence, starvation and lack of medical attention during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-23.

'I think the Senate cares about the slaughter of 1.5 million people,' Dole said. 'This is not an act of revenge, only a simple act of remembrance.'

But Turkey, a NATO ally, considered the resolution a deep offense, and clearly suggested that its approval by the Senate would adversely affect the leases of U.S. military facilities in Turkey. Dole said the Senate was being pressed by the administration, Turkey, and U.S. businesses operating in Turkey to reject the proposal.

Byrd said the Senate should not put itself in the position of being a judge about whether genocide occurred while the Ottoman Turks forcibly resettled and put down opposition by the Armenians. He added the resolution could harm relations with an important ally.

'I do not doubt that atrocities were committed,' Byrd said. 'The Senate has no right to determine if it is genocide or not genocide.'

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