WASHINGTON, DC – In the days leading up to Wednesday’s meeting between Pres. Bush and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, members of the US House of Representatives raised serious concerns about Turkey’s 12-year blockade of Armenia, growing anti-Americanism and anti- Semitism, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)
In a June 3rd letter, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) were joined by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and George Radanovich (R-CA) in urging Pres. Bush and Secretary of State Rice to “again call upon Turkey to comply with your Administration’s long-standing position that in order to restore economic, political, and cultural links with Armenia, Turkey should immediately lift its ongoing blockade with Armenia.”
The House members detailed the high cost of Turkey’s blockade on Armenia’s struggling economy. “A recent State Department report estimated that the blockade is inflating Armenia’s transportation costs by 30-35%, thereby stifling its trade and economy,” noted the letter. “This report also stated that opening the border would catalyze commercial opportunities for Turkey and Armenia in the fields of energy, trade and tourism, valued at $1 billion per year.”
The letter concludes that “if there is to be a resolution of conflicts in the region and a reduction of tensions along borders, it is essential that Turkey move forthwith to lift this destructive blockade.”
Rep. Rothman Takes Lead in Calling Attention to Turkish Anti- Americanism and Anti-Semitism
On the eve of Pres. Bush’s meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan, Rep. Rothman was joined by 10 House Colleagues in sending a meticulously documented letter to the President, detailing rampant anti-American and anti-Semitic sentiment in the Turkish press.
The June 7th letter noted the rise of anti-Semitism, citing as one example, that “some of Turkey’s best selling books this past year include Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which has been published at least 45 times between 1940 and 2005 in Turkey and is not being marketed by 11 publishers.” It goes on to detail the complex ways anti-Semitism manifests itself, including “animosity toward Jews and Judaism;” and, “a hostile approach towards the Jewish citizens of Turkey, including questioning their loyalty, accusing them of treason and blaming them for the fall of the Ottoman Empire…”
In detailing anti-Americanism in Turkey, House members cited “last year’s BBC poll, which found Turkey to hold the most anti-American sentiment in the world.” The letter also notes “Turkish government officials comparing the U.S. to Nazi Germany and President Bush to Adolph Hitler.”
Joining Rep. Rothman in cosigning the letter were Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-NV). Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), James McGovern (D- MA). Michael McNulty (D-NY), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Adam Schiff (D- CA), Mark Souder (R-IN), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Diane Watson (D- CA), and Anthony Weiner (D-NY).
Prime Minister Erdogan is scheduled to meet with Pres. Bush on Wednesday, June 8th. He will also be making a trip to the Capitol, to dine with Turkish Caucus members and meet with key Senate and House members in the afternoon.