MR. CASEY: Good afternoon, everybody. I don't have anything to start you with, so let's go to your questions.
Q Any update on U.S. contact with Turkish officials, whether the secretary's made calls or anyone else?
MR. CASEY: Well, Secretary Rice does plan to speak with the Turkish foreign minister a little later today, and she's also requested calls with Prime Minister Erdogan and President Gul. Those calls have not yet taken place. As you know, she's en route right now to Moscow for the two-plus-two talks, and I expect that we'll try and make those happen over the course of the day. But they have not as of yet occurred. Again, Undersecretary Burns did speak last night with the Turkish ambassador. Our ambassador, Ross Wilson, in Ankara has spoken with counterparts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well. And the basic message and the one I expect the secretary to convey in her calls to Turkish authorities, as well as the regret that the administration has over the passage of this resolution by the committee — our continued opposition to it and our commitment to work with Congress on this to see that the full House in fact votes to defeat this resolution as we move forward.
Q Is that another way of saying "damage control"?
MR. CASEY: Well, it's a way of saying that this is an issue where the Turkish officials have made clear their very strong concerns about this and have raised questions about potential consequences in the event that this resolution passes.
We certainly want to make sure that they understand that we also don't
support this resolution and that we're going to do everything we can
to ensure that it does not receive approval by the full House. And I
think at this point we respect and understand Turkish views on this.
As you've heard from Dan Fried and from others, and Nick Burns
yesterday, we just don't think that this resolution is the right
response to the mass killings at the beginning of the last century.
We recognize that this was a great tragedy, and we're not trying to
minimize or deny the enormous significance of this. But the
determination of whether these events constitute genocide is something
that we believe should be a matter for historical inquiry, not for
Q Have you been in contact with the Hill today, reaching out
to them and asking them to vote differently when it gets to the floor?
MR. CASEY: Well, as you know, we've been engaging before the
vote with members, and that includes the secretary and Undersecretary
Burns, Assistant Secretary Fried, among others, as well as our
Legislative Affairs staff. That is continuing today. I expect that
we will have additional outreach to members by all of those officials
as this moves forward. I'm not sure -- the White House can talk to
you. I know that my counterparts over there have talked about the
continued desire on the part of the White House to engage with members
of Congress on this.
But we do intend to talk with various members, certainly now with
the range of the full House involved, to explain to them our views and
again to reiterate that we don't think that this is the right response
and we don't believe that passage of such a resolution is helpful
either to the cause of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation or to U.S.
national security interests.
Q So you haven't directly approached Nancy Pelosi, for
MR. CASEY: I'm not aware of any new contacts with the speaker on
MR. CASEY: Yeah?
Q Is there any possibility for the United States to take
forward steps against PKK in the near future (to satisfy the ?)
MR. CASEY: Well, I think what we have been doing is trying to
work with Turkey and the government of Iraq to take steps to deal with
the problem that's posed by the PKK. And those efforts are going to
continue and they're going to continue regardless of what happens with
this vote, because the PKK is a terrorist organization and all of us
want to see the PKK put out of business, whether that's in terms of
their operations in Turkey or Iraq or anyplace else.
Q On the resolution again.
MR. CASEY: I knew. I sort of assumed you were probably on the
Q Okay. Mr. Casey, the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul,
stated -- quote -- " this unacceptable decision of the committee
has no validity or respectability for the Turkish people.
Unfortunately, some politicians in the United States ignored appeals
for common sense and once again moved to sacrifice big issues to petty
games of domestic politics," unquote.
Do you agree?
MR. CASEY: Well, look, again, this is an issue that we know has
great emotional resonance in Turkey and elsewhere, and we certainly
believe that it's not the right response to trying to deal with the
facts of what occurred, the mass killings that occurred at the
beginning of the last century.
I'll let the Turkish government and its officials speak to their
views on it, but from our perspective, it's the wrong resolution at
the wrong time. We oppose it, and we're going to continue to do so.
Q Is the U.S. position on the Armenian genocide in any way
linked to Turkish denial of this crime?
MR. CASEY: Well, again, we think that the determination of
whether the events that happened to ethnic Armenians at the end of the
Ottoman Empire should be a matter for historical inquiry. It's not
something that's going to be fostered or resolved or furthered by this
resolution. And I think, as you well know, there is tremendous amount
of debate in Turkey and in elsewhere about the facts, about what
happened, about accountability for it and about how people move
forward. There's been real efforts on the part of this Turkish
government to engage the government of Armenia and have a dialogue
about a variety of things, including the historical record that's
there. But those are the ways for people to pursue their
understanding and establishing a historical record.
Again, this action by the committee doesn't foster any of those
goals and therefore is another one of the reasons why we oppose it.
Q And the last one, Mr. Casey. If Turkey recognized the
genocide, would the U.S. also recognize this atrocity as genocide?
MR. CASEY: Look, Mr. Lambros, we think that there is a(n) ample
amount of discussion on this issue among historians, among people in
Turkey, among Armenians and among people here in the United States.
And again, no one is trying to deny or minimize the enormous
significance of the tragedy that was suffered by Armenians at the end
of the Ottoman Empire. I think we're all aware of the record. Dan
Fried, I think, spoke as eloquently as anyone has on this last week
when he addressed this subject.
But there's a difference between talking about and acknowledging
historical facts, realizing the tragedy they represent, and passage of
a resolution that, as we have discussed, does nothing to foster
reconciliation, does nothing to foster an establishment of the
historical record, and undermines U.S. national security and relations
between our countries.
Q Thank you.
Okay, Mr. Lambros.
Q On Kosovo. Mr. Casey, according to reports from The
Albanian, Kosovo authorities are planning to declare finally
independence November 28th, the day of Albanian independence. Are you
aware about that?
MR. CASEY: Well, Mr. Lambros, what I am aware of is that the
contact group and the troika are still engaged in negotiations and
diplomatic conversations between Kosovars and the government of Serbia
to try and come up with a solution acceptable to all parties, and
that, as you know, is the mandate that the contact group gave them.
Those discussions are slated to conclude in early December, but one of
the things that I think is important is they have been making some
progress in those discussions.
I can't predict for you what the outcome of those will be, but
certainly what we want to see happen is people focus on those
discussions, on those negotiations, to try and see if we can reach an
acceptable conclusion to it.
If not, as you know, U.S. policy is very clear on this: that we
would believe it would be -- then be appropriate, if an agreement
can't be reached, to move forward with the implementation of
independence, supervised at first, for Kosovo along the outlines that
the Ahtisaari plan calls for.
Q One more question. Since the crucial day of December 10th
is approaching, as the U.S. government, did you succeed to convince
finally the Serbians and the Russians that Kosovo should become
MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, the purpose of the negotiations that the
Contact Group is having with the Serbs and the Kosovars is to work out
the details of what an arrangement might be. Again, since those
haven't concluded, I think you can safely conclude that there isn't an
agreement at this point, though we're going to keep working on it.
We're certainly hopeful of being able to move this process forward and
come to some clearer understandings, clearer mutual agreement among
In terms of the Russian position on this, I think the Russians
have made their views known on this subject, and you can ask them if
it's changed any.
Q This is just something that we're hearing just now, is that
there are reports that Turkey has just recalled its ambassador to
Washington. Was there indication that that could happen, or can you
even confirm that?
MR. CASEY: I'm not -- I can't confirm that for you, Zain; it's
not something that I've heard. As I mentioned, Nick did speak with
the ambassador last night, and as far as I know, he did not convey
that he had received any kind of instruction like that.
Q But that surely is a blow to what you're trying to do, if
it's -- if these reports are indeed accurate.
MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think the -- I'll let the Turkish
government speak for itself in terms of its plans or its ideas or how
it intends to respond to this vote by the committee. But I think the
Turkish government has telegraphed for some time, been very vocal and
very public about its concerns about this and has said that they did
intend to react in a fairly forceful way if this happened. So I would
leave it to them to tell you whether in fact they've made this
decision, and if so, whether that's the specific reason for it.
The point that I made earlier and that I'll just make again for
you, though, is that we are going to engage with the Turkish
government on this. The secretary will be making calls later today on
this subject, and again our clear message is that this is a resolution
that we don't think is the right response, it's the wrong resolution
at the wrong time, it's one that the administration opposes and will
continue to oppose, and we're going to actively work with Congress to
ensure that it ultimately is defeated when and if it comes to the
Q And there is no indication in the meetings or conversations
that Nick Burns had that this would -- that would happen or --
MR. CASEY: Not that I'm aware of. Certainly it wasn't any part
of the readout that I received.
Q What are the implications of this though?
MR. CASEY: I think I'd need to confirm that it happened before
I'd try and tell you what the implications are. It also of course
always depends on, you know, there are ways -- people are sometimes
called back for consultation. Sometimes they're called back for other
reasons. Without knowing whether this is true or not and what the
specifics are, I really don't want to speculate on it.
What's important to us though is that we continue to work with
the Turkish government on the broad range of issues where we have a
common interest in cooperating. We recognize the difficulties for
them that are presented by this resolution. They have certainly again
been vocal in sharing their concerns, and we have been equally vocal
in explaining our position on this resolution, and in telling their
officials, as Nick did last night and as Ambassador Wilson has done
and as the secretary will do, that the administration does continue to
oppose this resolution and that we are going to make every effort we
can with Congress to see that it's defeated.
Q Presumably if it is -- we have the same report. If it has
happened, and the Turkish ambassador is recalled, presumably you don't
plan any reciprocal action.
MR. CASEY: Certainly nothing that anyone's told me.
Q (Off mike.)
MR. CASEY: Look, I hesitate to try and categorize something even
if it's reported by AP or CNN. Let me be fair. (Laughter, cross
talk.) Even if it's true, I think we'd need to see what it is. We
certainly want to continue to have good, positive relationships with
the government of Turkey, to continue to work with them on the broad
range of issues. But you know, again, if they wanted to bring their
ambassador back for consultations or do something else, then that is
their decision. I think that it certainly will not do anything to
limit our efforts to continue to reach out to Turkish officials, to
explain our views, to engage them on this issue and again to make
clear that we intend to work on this with Congress.
Okay, Mr. Lambros.
Q One follow-up: Yes, Mr. Casey, are you planning also to
block the efforts of the Armenian resolution not to go to the floor of
the House of Representatives?
MR. CASEY: Well, Mr. Lambros, the -- I leave it to the
parliamentarians and the folks that understand the rules and
procedures in the House. The administration, the executive branch,
can't block bills from reaching the floor any more than we can block a
vote in committee on them. But our main point would be that we do not
think this resolution is appropriate.
We would encourage those who are thinking about it and who will
have to vote on it eventually to vote against it. We'll be reaching
out to them at a variety of different levels over time. If the
resolution were withdrawn, I think that would be wonderful, but I
don't think anyone's expecting that to happen at this point.
Q Is there any change on Secretary Rice's planned visit at
the end of this month to Turkey?
MR. CASEY: In terms of, oh --
Q The neighbors meeting.
MR. CASEY: Yeah, I don't -- we don't have any particular travel
plans to announce, but I'm not aware of any changes in her schedule at
Okay, thanks, everyone