YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenian lawmakers rose to their feet in applause, and their president urged the United States to go further after a U.S. House panel approved a resolution labeling the World War I-era killings of Armenians by Turks genocide.
The decision of the House Foreign Affairs Committee was a triumph for Armenian-American interest groups who have lobbied Congress for decades. The resolution is expected to pass a House vote despite the Bush administration's concerns about harming relations with Turkey — a key supply route to U.S. troops in Iraq.
If Congress recognizes the killings as genocide, it could be a cathartic moment for this landlocked republic of rugged highlands. Armenians have been striving for decades to gain recognition of their stance in a dispute that has poisoned relations with modern Turkey.
Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I. Scholars view it as the first genocide of the 20th century, but Turkey says the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.