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Turks Protest Genocide Resolution at U.S. Embassy

DEBORAH AMOS, Host:

We turn now to our correspondent in Istanbul, Ivan Watson. Good morning, Ivan.

IVAN WATSON: Good morning, Deb.

AMOS: The Turkish government lobbied very hard for this including personal phone calls at the highest level. What's the reaction to the vote?

WATSON: This bill comes at a time when the U.S. is at an all-time low in Turkish public opinion polls largely due to the U.S. prosecution of the war in neighboring Iraq. Turkish president at midnight last night called the bill unacceptable. He accused some American politicians of sacrificing big issues for the, quote, "petty games of domestic politics." Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has said that Turkey has been, quote, "accused of something that never happened in history."

AMOS: This is an issue that's come up before in American politics. But it's never come to a vote. Why is it so sensitive in Turkey? What - is there an alternative version?

WATSON: The subject is still taboo here. Just two years ago, Turkish Nobel Prize winning author, Orhan Pamuk, he was taken to court for insulting Turkishness when he said in an interview that a million Armenians were killed here and nobody dares to talk about it.

AMOS: Ivan, this all happens at a time of great tension between Turkey and its neighbor Iraq. Tell us a little bit how this issue plays into how the Turks see that tension.

WATSON: In addition to that, you have the question of Turkey serving as a major transit hub for U.S. troops and supplies going into Iraq. And Turkey may cut back on cooperation on access to Turkish air bases and Turkish territory for troops and supplies going in and out of Iraq.

AMOS: Thank you very much. NPR's Ivan Watson in Istanbul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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