STOCKHOLM — A Turkish lawmaker last week harshly criticized a prominent US senator for prioritizing his family relationships at the expense of damaging ties between Turkey and the US, nordicmonitor.com reports
Heading a parliamentary delegation to Washington, D.C., Akif Çağatay Kılıç, chairman of the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed displeasure that his interlocutor, Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, did not respond to his request for a meeting.
Kılıç claimed Senator Menendez behaved this way because his wife is Armenian and that he did not want to hear the truth about the Armenian genocide.
“We know his wife is in the Armenian diaspora. It’s not right to make moves in politics based on populist and family motives that could damage relations with a country, a parliament and a nation,” Kılıç said.
“It is significant that even a dialogue is not sought here, or at least that a request for an appointment was not answered,” he added.
In April US President Joe Biden formally recognized the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I as genocide, making him the first US president to recognize the massacre as an act of genocide.
The Turkish delegation last week met with several senators and members of the House of Representatives, among them Ron Johnson and Jim Risch from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Menendez. The delegation also met representatives from the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and the US Chamber of Commerce. The delegates also joined a round table discussion with several experts on Turkish-American relations at the Washington office of the Turkish government-funded SETA think tank.
Contrary to Kılıç’s claim, Senator Menendez has long worked for the official recognition of the Armenian genocide. A quick study of his Capitol Hill record suggests that his position on the Armenian issue has been unwavering, and he was known for his pro-Armenian stance long before he was elected to the Senate in 2006. Menendez married his Armenian fiancée Nadine Arslanian in 2020 after dating for several years. The couple is said to have first met in 2011. He previously sponsored many resolutions for recognition of the genocide. In 2009 Menendez himself introduced a Senate resolution that called on the president to officially recognize “the systematic murder of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 as genocide.” In April 2019 he submitted a non-binding resolution with a bipartisan group of 15 senators including then-Senator Kamala Harris, who is now vice president of the United States.
Nordic Monitor previously published secret documents which revealed that Kılıç, who is also vice president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), had past links to a one-time al-Qaeda financier from Saudi Arabia. According to the document Kılıç, a former aide to President Erdoğan, was identified as having developed a relationship with Yasin al-Qadi, listed as an al-Qaeda financier on both the US Treasury and UN lists for many years, and his son Muaz al-Qadi (Kadıoğlu). The document, which was stamped “secret,” detailed an intercepted communication of Kılıç with al-Qadi’s son. The two sounded very friendly on the phone according to a readout from the transcript.