By Emilio Luciano Cricchio
Less than two months after the US House of Representatives voted 405-11 to recognize the events of 1915 as genocide, the US Senate too has passed the resolution by unanimous consent on December 12.
After the blocking of the resolution by three Republican senators on three different occasions, it would seem that GOP senators had lost the appetite to further obstruct the motion.
Civilnet has gathered some of leading pieces which have covered the news from Capitol Hill.
The New York Times
The passage of the legislation, a symbolic victory for Armenians around the world, is the first time Congress has formally designated the 1915 mass killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.
“To overlook human suffering is not who we are as a people,” a visibly emotional Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said on the Senate floor moments after the legislation passed. “It is not what we stand for as a nation. We are better than that, and our foreign policy should always reflect this.”
Read more: Senate Passes Resolution Recognizing Armenian Genocide, in Defiance of Trump
Menendez grew visibly emotional as he said, "I am thankful that this resolution has passed at a time in which there are still survivors of the genocide who will be able to see that the Senate acknowledges what they went through."
Turkish presidential spokesperson Fahrettin Altun tweeted after the vote "The behavior of some members of the U.S. Congress is damaging Turkish-American ties.”
"In every previous attempt to politicize history by some members of the US Congress, we reiterated our position to form a group to study it," Altun said. "We expressed that history should not be something that divides nations but unites them," he added in response to the passage of the bill. Turkey denies that the events of 1915 that led to the mass killing of Armenians constitutes a genocide. Ankara's official position is for historians to independently evaluate the events of 1915."
Read more: Senate passes resolution to formally “commemorate the Armenian Genocide”
Activist groups cheered the vote as long overdue. “The president ran out of people he could turn to enforce Erdogan’s veto,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America.
Turkey’s decades-long opposition to the resolution was “the longest-lasting veto over U.S. foreign policy” by a foreign power in American history, Hamparian said.
“Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed around World War I, and many scholars see it as the 20th century’s first genocide. Turkey disputes the description, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of a civil war.”
Read more: Senate Approves Resolution Affirming Turkey Is Responsible for Century-Old Armenian Genocide
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the decision a “political show” while presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara strongly condemned and rejected the measure.
Relations between the U.S. and Turkey, two NATO allies, have become tense in recent months after Turkey bought a Russian defense missile system and launched a military offensive in northern Syria, threatening the United States' Kurdish partners there as Trump pulled back American forces from the region. Lawmakers voted in October on a bipartisan bill to sanction Turkey and condemn its incursion into Syria.
Trump met face-to-face with Erdogan in November to smooth over relations. Trump cast the Nov. 13 meeting as “wonderful” but there was no concrete breakthrough.
Read more: Senate passes resolution formally recognizing Armenian genocide
The vote brings to 32 the number of countries who recognize the mass killings of Armenians as genocide. In Britain, the three devolved legislatures of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have given formal recognition, but not the UK as a whole.
The chief Democratic sponsor of the resolution, the New Jersey senator Bob Mendendez, was choked with emotion after the vote, saying: “It is fitting and appropriate that the Senate stands on the right side of history.”
Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, had promised Armenian Armenians during his 2008 presidential campaign that he would recognize the genocide but reneged once in office.
Read more: US Senate defies Trump in unanimous vote to recognize Armenian genocide
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan hailed a "victory for justice and truth". "On behalf of the Armenian people, I express our gratitude to the US Congress," he wrote on Twitter, describing the vote as "a brave step towards the prevention of future genocides.”
On October 30, the adoption by 405 out of 435 for this resolution in the House of Representatives had already provoked the ire of Ankara, who had denounced it as an "insult" and a measure which had "no value". An ally of Donald Trump in the Senate then blocked the first attempt to vote the resolution in the upper house, about an hour after meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the White House on November 14.
Read more: Le Congrès américain reconnaît le génocide arménien
A move sure to unleash the anger of Ankara that had already summoned the American ambassador after approval by the House of Reps last October. “It is appropriate for the Senate to be on the right side of history… the truth about the Armenian Genocide is (now) recognized,” said Senator Bob Menendez, who sponsored the resolution, which was passed unanimously.
Read more: Il Congresso degli Stati Uniti riconosce genocidio del popolo armeno. Dopo la Camera ok del Senato
Pelosi: "One of the worst atrocities"
The US House of Representatives voted in favor of the resolution by a clear majority of 405 to 11 at the end of October. Democratic House Chair Nancy Pelosi said that it was a reminder of one of the worst atrocities of the twentieth century - "the systematic killing of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children by the Ottoman Empire."
In the following weeks, however, the resolution failed three times due to the resistance of Republican senators. US President Donald Trump is seeking to improve relations with Turkish President Erdogan. Erdogan had described the House's decision as "worthless" and the allegation of genocide as "the greatest insult to our people."
Read more: USA: Massaker an Armeniern war Völkermord