Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (born February 26, 1954) became prime minister of Turkey on March 14, 2003. He is the leader of the Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AK Party, or Justice and Development Party).
- When more than 100,000 Turks gathered at Mr Dink's funeral chanting “We are all Armenians”, Mr Erdogan opined that they had gone “too far”. Both he and Mr Baykal have resisted calls to scrap article 301, though there have been hints that it will be amended. Source: Economist
- Asked during an interview with the BBC Turkish service in London on Tuesday, cited by Western news agencies, what he thought about the resolutions, Erdogan said: "There are currently 170,000 Armenians living in our country. Only 70,000 of them are Turkish citizens, but we are tolerating the remaining 100,000. If necessary, I may have to tell these 100,000 to go back to their country because they are not my citizens. I don't have to keep them in my country." Source: Radio Liberty
Reverse Genocide Claims
Armenians 'Sought To Wipe Out Turks'
Armenians in the Ottoman Empire never faced a genocidal government policy and, on the contrary, themselves plotted to exterminate Turks, according to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan was reported to angrily dispute many historians’ view that 1915 massacres of Ottoman Armenian constitute genocide as he marked the 95th anniversary of a rare Turkish military victory during World War One.
“In 1915 and before that, it was the Armenian side that pursued a policy aimed at exterminating our people which led to hunger, misery and death,” he said in a speech delivered in the city of Canakkale. “Forgetting all that is unfair and heartless. Our warriors always respected ancestral laws and did not kill innocent people even on the battlefield.”
“I should underline that this country’s soldier is bigger than history and that this country’s history is as clean and clear as the sun. No country’s parliament can tarnish it,” Erdogan said, in a clear reference to U.S. and Swedish lawmakers’ latest resolutions recognizing the slaughter of more than one million Armenians as genocide.
“There is no genocide in our civilization. Our civilization is the civilization of love, tolerance and brotherhood,” he added, according to “Today’s Zaman” daily.
Erdogan followed a similar line of reasoning last November when he stated that the universally condemned killings of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Darfur, Sudan were not a genocide. “Muslims don’t commit genocide,” he said.
The Turkish premier did use the word “genocide,” however, when he condemned the deaths of several dozen Turkic-speaking and Muslim Uighurs during unrest in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region last July. “The killings of Uighur Turks by the Chinese police during demonstrations constitute genocide,” he said at the time. “I use this term intentionally.”
Erdogan orders demolition of Turkey-Armenia friendship monument
Turkish-Armenian ‘Friendship’ Statue Faces Demolition
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the destruction of a giant monument to friendship between Turkey and Armenia, reports from Ankara said on Monday.
The 30-meter (100-foot) unfinished concrete statue, located in the northeastern Turkish city of Kars close to the Armenian border, was commissioned in 2006 to promote dialogue and reconciliation between the two historic enemies. It depicts two figures emerging from one human shape and symbolizing the pain of division.
Visiting Kars on Sunday, Erdogan reportedly described the monument as a “monstrosity” that overshadows a nearby Islamic shrine. The AFP news agency cited Turkish media as saying that he ordered the Kars mayor, a member of his ruling Justice and Development Party, to replace it with a park.
It was not clear if Erdogan referred to Kars’s 10th century Armenian church of Surp Arakelots (Holy Apostles). It was converted into a mosque after the city and the surrounding region were captured from a short-lived independent Armenian republic and incorporated into modern-day Turkey in 1920.
Opponents of Erdogan's Islamic rooted government were critical of his comments, with former culture minister Ercan Karakas saying that they are a “shame” and that “the sculpture is neither strange nor ugly,” according to AFP.
Its author, Turkish sculptor Mehmet Aksoy, defended his work, saying on NTV television its destruction would recall the demolition by the Taliban of ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan valley in 2001 that stunned the world.
Turkey’s Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that a decision about the monument's fate will be made in consultation with the artist. Gunay noted that it was placed on a historic site of war.
Turkish PM offers condolences over 1915 Armenian massacre
Recep Tayyip Erdogan refers to 'our shared pain' in unexpected statement on eve of 99th anniversary of start of deportations
Constanze Letsch in Istanbul and agencies theguardian.com, Wednesday 23 April 2014
The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has offered his condolences to the families of more than 1 million Armenians who were massacred during the first world war, in Turkey's most conciliatory remarks yet over the highly contested episode.
Speaking on the eve of the 99th anniversary of the start of mass deportations of Armenians, Erdogan said the mass killings by Ottoman forces – seen by many as the first genocide of the 20th century – were "inhumane".
"The incidents of the first world war are our shared pain," Erdogan said in an official statement that was translated into nine languages, including Armenian It was the first time that a Turkish leader had used such explicit language in relation to the deeply divisive episode.
The interpretation of the mass killings in 1915 remains a highly contentious issue in the country and abroad, and has fuelled bitter controversy between Armenia and Turkey. Armenia has urged Turkey to recognise the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide. Turkey, which puts the death toll at 500,000, says they died of fighting and starvation, and categorically rejects the term.
"Millions of people of all religions and ethnicities lost their lives in the first world war," Erdogan said. "Having experienced events which had inhumane consequences – such as relocation – during the first world war should not prevent Turks and Armenians from establishing compassion and mutually humane attitudes towards one another.
"It is our hope and belief that the peoples of an ancient and unique geography, who share similar customs and manners, will be able to talk to each other about the past with maturity and to remember together their losses in a decent manner.
"And it is with this hope and belief that we wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the context of the early 20th century rest in peace, and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren."
Despite his conciliatory tone, Erdogan also said it was "inadmissible" for the events of 1915 to be used as an excuse today for hostility against Turkey.
Orhan Dink, brother of the murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, welcomed the statement. "Today's message of condolence is a very important step," he said. "If democracy is to be built in Turkey, this is one of the most basic bricks to do so. Both for Armenians in Turkey and for me it is important that the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey makes such a statement. Some might say that it came late, but the important thing is that this first step was made. This step has to bring both societies towards normalisation."
But Erdogan's words were dismissed as "cold-hearted and cynical" by an influential US-based Armenian advocacy group.
The executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America said that Turkey was increasingly isolated over its version of what happened in 1915.
"Ankara is repackaging its genocide denials," Aram Hamparian said in response to Erdogan's remarks. "The fact remains that, as this cold-hearted and cynical ploy so plainly demonstrates, Turkey is, today, escalating its denial of truth and obstruction of justice for the Armenian genocide."
Turkey shut its border with Armenia in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan and that country's claim on Karabakh. Efforts at thawing the ice between the two stalled in 2010, but foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu's December visit to Armenia raised hopes that the relationship might improve again.
In his statement, Erdogan repeated Turkey's offer to establish a joint historical commission in which academics and researchers of both countries would study the events of 1915 together, an offer that Armenia has declined up until now. He said that the issue should not be used for political gains.
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