Turkey has summoned the US ambassador after lawmakers in Washington voted to recognize Ottoman-era mass killings of Armenians as genocide and called for sanctions against Ankara, Politico reported.
On Tuesday the US House of Representatives approved a resolution recognizing the genocide — which Ankara denies — and passed a bill aiming to impose fresh sanctions on Turkey over its military operation against Syrian Kurdish forces.
In response the Turkish government on Wednesday morning summoned David Satterfield, the US envoy in Ankara, the state news agency Anadolu reported.
The Turkish foreign ministry rejected the genocide recognition as “meaningless” and “devoid of any historical or legal basis” in a statement issued late Tuesday, suggesting that lawmakers had approved the resolution to “take vengeance” against Turkey over its incursion into Syria.
“Undoubtedly, this resolution will negatively affect the image of the US before the public opinion of Turkey as it also brings the dignity of the US House of Representatives into disrepute,” the statement added.
The Armenian genocide — the massacre and deportation of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915 — is a sensitive issue in Turkey.
Turkey accepts that many Armenians in the Ottoman Empire died during World War I but denies that the killings were systematic and firmly rejects the label genocide.
The US resolution comes amid deteriorating ties between Ankara and Washington following disputes over a number of issues, in particular Turkey’s recent Syria offensive.
To enact the sanctions — which target senior Turkish officials and would restrict weapons sales to Turkey — the bill still needs to pass the Senate and be signed off by President Donald Trump.