( Todayszaman ) - Mutual efforts at the highest level in Ankara and Washington have failed to prevent approval by a US House of Representatives committee of a resolution calling the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks genocide, leading both capitals to thoroughly analyze what should be done to control damage to bilateral relations.
In addition to the problems facing the future of bilateral relations, Turkey must also cope with the challenge of finding a reasonable way to respond to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs decision that will, in particular, ease the pressure from public opinion that has been fueled by anger against the US due to its inaction regarding the terrorist threat posed to Turkey by the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).
The ball is now in the court of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who can, in theory, block the measure. Few expect she will do so, however, given her open support for the genocide allegations and pre-election pledges to work for congressional acknowledgement of the charges.
Nonetheless, in the face of growing impatience among both Turkish officials and the public, the Turkish capital is not likely to wait to see whether or not the resolution will be sent forward for a vote by the entire House of Representatives. As of Thursday afternoon, senior military and diplomatic figures were discussing ways to retaliate in a lengthy meeting held at the Foreign Ministry in Ankara.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, following long hours of situation analysis, the Foreign Ministry issued a government statement in which it clearly warned that relations with the United States would be damaged by the US House committee's approval of the controversial resolution.
The government statement came as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepared to ask Parliament, controlled by his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), to authorize a military incursion into northern Iraq to fight PKK members using the region as a base.
"The committee's approval of this resolution was an irresponsible move which, coming at a very sensitive time, will make relations with a friend, ally and strategic partner that have been nurtured over generations, more difficult," the government said in the statement. "Our government regrets and condemns this decision. It is unacceptable that the Turkish nation has been accused of something that never happened," it stressed.
Turkey, which has NATO's second biggest army and plays a key role in a volatile region, has warned of damage to bilateral ties and military cooperation if Congress passes the measure.
The House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs approved the resolution 27-21. The text says the World War I killings of Armenians constituted a "genocide" that should be acknowledged fully in US foreign policy towards Turkey, along with "the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution." It now goes to the House floor, where Democratic leaders say there will be a vote by mid-November. There is a companion bill in the Senate, but both measures are strictly symbolic and do not require the president's signature.
Ankara said it would do all it could to stop the resolution from being approved by the assembly.
Ankara rejects the Armenian position, backed by many Western historians and some foreign parliaments, that up to 1.5 million Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War I.
Turkey says many Muslim Turks died alongside Christian Armenians in inter-ethnic conflict as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.