Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), co-chairman of the Turkish-U.S. relations caucus, said Thursday that recent actions by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan led him to reverse course and vote in favor of a House resolution condemning the Armenian genocide.
“I’ve always opposed the Armenian resolution, and I voted for it this week. I voted for it because Turkey doesn’t seem to respect the United States at all,” Cohen said at a U.S. Helsinki Commission hearing on Capitol Hill.
The House passed the resolution Tuesday in a 405-11 vote. The measure officially recognizes and rebukes the Ottoman Empire’s genocide against the Armenian people and rejects any efforts to enlist the U.S. government in denying that the genocide took place.
Cohen cited a 2017 incident, when several of Erdoğan’s bodyguards assaulted protesters in Washington, D.C., and the recent Turkish incursion into Syria as reasons why he believes U.S. sentiment toward Turkey is changing.
“I can just say this that the mood of the Congress has changed as well. There were never 218 votes for the Armenian resolution” before this year, Cohen said.
Gonut Tol, director of the Center for Turkish Studies at the Middle East Institute who testified at Thursday’s hearing, disagreed with Cohen’s politicization of the genocide resolution.
“I think a genocide resolution should be about genocide. It should not be weaponized and politicized,” she said.