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Media ask: What next for genocide vote?

Protests outside American embassy in Ankara
Turkey has reacted angrily to the genocide vote

Armenian and Turkish media express a sense of déjà vu over the vote by a US congressional panel which described the killing of Armenians during World War I as genocide.

But while Armenian expectations appear low, Turkish commentators speak of a movie re-run and feel that the ''genocide problem'' will continue to haunt the country unless something positive is done about Turkey's relations with Armenia.

Armenian newspaper and TV reports present the vote as the result of a ''war'' between competing lobbies, but some point out that the resolution had previously received committee support without making the next, critical step of being approved by the full House of Representatives.

Nothing new

''It is generally believed that the resolution approved yesterday will have the fate of the previous ones. With the approval of this document Washington merely makes an attempt to pressure Turkey into ratifying the Armenian-Turkish protocols (on normalising relations),'' says Haykakan Zhamanak, a major Armenian daily.

The Armenian daily Aravot - in a piece headlined ''Turks urged to reconcile with history" - says: "The resolution was introduced in the foreign relations committee of the House of Representatives three times over the past 10 years and was approved - like yesterday.''

In days leading up to the vote the media gave wide publicity to campaigns by the Armenian lobby in the US.

And in a report on the successful outcome of the vote, the daily paper Azg says: ''Three Armenians who witnessed the Genocide, two women and a 105-year-old man, were present in the House of Representatives yesterday - to see and to feel how the US approaches the tragedy they experienced.''

Reaction in the Turkish press was mixed, with one commentator suggesting Turkey should address the moral question behind the vote. Others believed the irksome ''genocide'' issue could be eased by diplomatic means.

Movie re-run

Ismet Berkan, writing in Turkey's Radical, said Turkey was in the habit of threatening anyone who alleged genocide against the Armenians. ''But whether we like it or not,'' he said, ''the subject of the resolution is a moral one - we should provide a moral answer to it. But no, we continue to withhold that answer. And we do this knowing that this policy has not brought us anything.''

Mehmet Ali Birand, said in Turkey's Posta that the vote was a ''rerun of the genocide movie'' which ''will constantly keep running at theatres''. He predicted that pressure on Turkey would mount, and that it would therefore be best ''if we are realistic and try to implement the protocol with Armenia''.

Another commentator, Ferai Tinc, writing in Turkey's Hurriyet, concurred that the problem should be solved within the framework of pursuing good relations with Armenia, adding that the issue would escalate and damage Turkey's diplomatic ties. ''And it will not end even when the US approves the [genocide] claims because the issue will be carried to the UN and other international platforms.''

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.



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