Mon, 21 Sep 2020

The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire a century ago as genocide, a move Armenia's prime minister hailed as a 'victory of justice and truth.'

'We have just passed the Armenian Genocide resolution recognition,' announced New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez following the December 12 vote. 'And it is fitting and appropriate that the Senate stands on the right side of history in doing so,' Menendez added.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian hailed the vote in a post on Twitter.

'On behalf of the #Armenian people worldwide, I express our profound appreciation to the Senate for this landmark legislation,' Pashinian wrote.

The vote in the Senate on December 12 comes after the upper chamber of Congress had several attempts to pass the measure in recent weeks blocked by individual Republican senators.

Congressional aides said the White House did not want the legislation to move ahead while it was negotiating with Ankara on sensitive issues such as Turkey's offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria and the NATO ally's purchase of an S-400 missile-defense system from Russia, which could provoke U.S. sanctions.

The Democrat-led House of Representatives passed the resolution 405-11 in late October.

During and immediately after World War I, Ottoman Turks killed or deported as many as 1.5 million Armenians -- a Christian minority in the predominately Muslim empire. Many historians and some other nations consider the killings genocide.

Turkey, a NATO member, objects to the use of the word genocide to describe the killings. Ankara claims the deaths were a result of civil strife rather than a planned Ottoman government effort to annihilate Armenians. Turkey also claims fewer Armenians died than has been reported.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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