Erdogan's Insulting Words about Obama May Haunt Turkey after the Elections
Armenians can always count on Turkish leaders to make berserk and emotional statements that inadvertently further publicize the issue of the Armenian Genocide.
Last week, when presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards, as well as Sen. Joe Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued statements reaffirming the Armenian Genocide, Turkish Prime Minister Rejeb Tayyip Erdogan made rude and insulting comments about Sen. Obama, thus attracting further media attention to the Genocide committed by Ottoman Turkey.
Sen. Obama called for Congressional passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution and pledged that he would recognize the Armenian Genocide, if elected President. He said: "I share with Armenian Americans -- so many of whom are descended from genocide survivors -- a principled commitment to commemorating and ending genocide. That starts with acknowledging the tragic instances of genocide in world history. As a U.S. Senator, I have stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey 's acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. Two years ago, I criticized the Secretary of State for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term 'genocide' to describe Turkey's slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. I shared with Secretary Rice my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide."
Sen. Obama also pledged to maintain U.S. assistance to Armenia, strengthen its democracy, seek an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, work for a lasting and durable settlement of the Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh) conflict, promote growth and development through expanded trade and targeted aid, and strengthen the commercial, political, military, developmental, and cultural relationships between the U.S. and Armenian governments.
Sen. Joe Biden, who until recently was a presidential candidate, followed suit by officially announcing his support for the Congressional reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide. He thus became the 34th Senator to cosponsor the Genocide Resolution. Sen. Biden is a longtime supporter of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide and many other Armenian issues.
Sen. Hillary followed by issuing her own statement supporting the adoption of the Congressional Resolution on the Armenian Genocide and pledging to recognize it, if elected President. She said: "Alone among the Presidential candidates, I have been a longstanding supporter of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. I have been a co-sponsor of the Resolution since 2002, and I support adoption of this legislation by both Houses of Congress. I believe the horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide. I have twice written to President Bush calling on him to refer to the Armenian Genocide in his annual commemorative statement and, as President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide. Our common morality and our nation's credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States."
Sen. Clinton also said that she valued her friendship with the vibrant Armenian American community: "This is in keeping with my dedication to the causes of the Armenian American community over many years. I was privileged as First Lady to speak at the first-ever White House gathering in 1994 for leaders from Armenia and the Armenian American community to celebrate the historic occasion of Armenia ’s reborn independence. I will, as President, work to expand and improve U.S.-Armenia relations in addressing the common issues facing our two nations: increasing trade, fostering closer economic ties, fighting terrorism, strengthening democratic institutions, pursuing our military partnership and deepening cooperation with NATO, and cooperating on regional concerns, among them a fair and democratic resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. As President, I will expand U.S. assistance programs to Armenia and to the people of Nagorno-Karabagh."
Finally, presidential candidate John Edwards issued his own very supportive statement: "I am proud of my record in the U.S. Senate fighting hard for the concerns of our nation's one and a half million Americans of Armenian heritage. In the Senate, I stood against threats to Armenia ’s security, including the blockades it continues to endure. As President, I will prioritize our special relationship with Armenia and the goal of a lasting peace to Nagorno Karabagh and the entire region. I strongly believe that the United States must stand for telling the truth about all genocides. I support the Congressional resolution declaring the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 a genocide. We must also continue to strengthen our relationship with Turkey , an important democratic ally against the forces of tyranny in the region. The resolution should therefore be integrated with a comprehensive diplomatic effort to make sure that our friends in Turkey today understand that the resolution is not aimed at them but instead at atrocities committed almost a century ago by the Ottoman Empire .”
The Armenian American community naturally welcomes all four statements. However, given the long chain of not kept promises by previous presidential candidates, Armenians should not judge these candidates by the above statements alone. They should evaluate the candidates' long-standing commitment to Armenian American issues and be suspicious of opportunistic statements made on the eve of the decisive upcoming primary elections. The Armenian American community should also judge these candidates by their circle of close advisors. If that core group includes individuals that have been antagonistic to Armenian issues in the past, there is a good chance that the next president would be dissuaded from carrying out his or her promises after the election.
Despite the distinct possibility that the statements issued last week may be useless after the election, they have already had a very positive effect on propagating the Armenian Cause, thanks to the rude reaction of Prime Minister Erdogan. According to the Turkish press, Prime Minister Erdogan called Sen. Obama "an amateur of politics. A day may come when you will have to choose between 70 million Turkey and two million Armenia . One has to think carefully before uttering such words. I suggest that he outgrow the amateur period of is political career." It appears that Prime Minister Erdogan is more concerned about numbers than choosing between right and wrong -- truth and lies!
Should Sen. Obama be elected President, he may not look kindly at Turkish Prime Minister's insulting words. Armenians would hope that Erdogan would similarly lash out at all the presidential candidates who have issued similar statements. That way, no matter which candidate gets elected, there would be a backlash on U.S.-Turkish relations, lessening the likelihood that Turkish leaders would get away with blackmailing the White House again in the future!