Administration Walks Fine Line on Blasts From Turkey

In less than a week from some sharp verbal blasts from both the prime minister of Turkey and the commander of the Turkish armed forces, the Bush Administration is walking a fine line on how to respond to the leadership of a country enraged over the affirmative vote on the Pelosi-champioined Armenian genocide resolution by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The President has talked to [Turkish] Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan since the vote in the House earlier this month,” one Administration source told me on background this afternoon, adding that the White House, and State and Defense Departments have made it clear to Ankara that passage of the measure so distasteful to Turkey “was a calculated move by the leadership of the House.”

But there was no public rebuttal to recent, sharply-worded statements by Erdogan and General Yasar Buyukanit warned of estrangement from the US over the Armenian genocide resolution.  In an interview with the Times of London Sunday, Prime Minister Erdogan warned that “those who sign up to a campaign against Turkey in relation to the so-called Armenian genocide are really the ones firing a bullet at the friendship between America and Turkey.”

Asked how he would retaliate if the full House approved the resolution (which came out of the Foreign Affairs Committee on a vote of 27-to-21), Erdogan told the Times:  “There is a saying in Turkey: you do not measure a nappy for an unborn child.”

His comments came a week after Gen. Buyukanit, commander of Turkey’s armed forces, told the Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet “If this resolution passed in the committee passes the House as well, our military ties with the US will never be the same again.”

The same Administration source cautioned me not to put significant stock in “a couple of public statements” and noted that both the prime minister and Gen. Buyukanit have “an internal situation they have to deal with. . .Turkey is just coming off national elections.”

There is some confidence within the Administration that the Ankara government understands that the committee vote was achieved with the strong support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the vocal opposition of the President.  In his interview with HUMAN EVENTS before being recalled for consultation with the prime minister after the House committee vote, Turkish Ambassador Nabi Sensoy told us he would make it clear to Erdogan that the President was strong in his opposition to the measure and that Speaker Pelosi had made it clear she was strongly behind his passage.  Erdogan himself noted to the Times that he “would like to thank President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and all other representatives of the senior administration who have made efforts in this direction.”

But, the same Administration source also told me, under these circumstances,  “of course, one is worried.”