U.S. Officials Knew in October of 2000 about Turkey's "Overplaying and Spinning" of its Threatened Response

February 1, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC – State Department diplomatic communications, obtained by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), reveal a pattern by the Turkish government of dramatically overstating its ability to retaliate against the United States in the event of the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

In response to ANCA’s FOIA inquiries, the State Department released several hundred pages of files, including materials identified as previously “confidential” and “secret.” These documents cover the State Department’s activities in connection with the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the year 2000. This measure cleared the committee process and was set for a vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. It was withdrawn by Speaker Dennis Hastert, moments before it was to be considered, at the urging of President Clinton – who predicted “far-reaching negative consequences for the United States” should the measure pass. Additional files cover the State Department connection to the discredited Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission.

“These documents reveal that U.S. State Department officials were aware, in the fall of 2000, of the hollow nature of Turkey’s threats – yet nonetheless misled Congress and the American public into believing the fiction that adopting the Armenian Genocide Resolution would lead to serious harm in U.S.-Turkish relations,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.

Among the most compelling revelations in these documents include:

* The U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Robert Pearson, in an October 16, 2000 diplomatic communication with the State Department, noted the self-destructive nature of Turkey’s overstated threats regarding the Armenian Genocide Resolution:

“Overplaying and spinning the potential Turkish retaliation for the House Resolution for domestic audiences could well have the unintended effect of scaring away the U.S. companies which are poised to complete the only projects which offer Turkey any hope of meeting its energy demand in the short term.”

* In sharp contrast to the Turkish government threats that the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution would lead to a major dislocation of U.S.-Turkish ties, an October 19, 2000 diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara to the State Department noted that:

“[U.S.] Ambassador [to Turkey Robert] Pearson responded [to Turkish criticism of the Armenian Genocide Resolution by saying that] that the United States is committed to maintaining its current excellent relationship with Turkey and that the Administration’s attitude towards Turkey would not be affected by the outcome of the Congressional vote.”

* Analyzing a leaked Turkish Government document listing potential Turkish retaliation to the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara noted in an October 19, 2000 diplomatic cable to the State Department that the:

“Government coalition and non-affiliated columnists have both cautioned against using energy projects as retaliation. We also doubt that the Turks will cancel any projects underway if the Armenian Resolution is passed.”

Later in this same report, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara noted that:

“Senior Motherland Party officials, led by Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, have stated publicly that the Turkish Government must be careful to moderate any response to the Resolution. Several editorials have also noted that acting against U.S. energy companies would hurt Turkey more than the U.S., given Turkey’s urgent need for energy.”

The Freedom of Information Act protects the rights of the public to information and makes provisions for individuals to obtain information on the operation of federal agencies.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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