|Positions||Foreign Minister of Turkey|
Ahmet Davutoğlu is Turkey's Prime Minister.
Turkish PM Sued For Insulting Armenians
Turkey’s Human Rights Organization has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the country’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and another senior official on the grounds of insulting Armenians.
Speaking in the city of Bingol in eastern Turkey on February 27, Davutoglu criticized the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, accusing it of collaborating with Russia like “the Armenian gangs collaborated with the Russians.”
Turkey and Russia have been at loggerheads of the situation in Syria. The relations between Ankara and Moscow have been particularly tense since last November when Turkish air forces downed a Russian military plane near the Syrian border.
In his statement Davutoglu implied an accusation against Ottoman Armenians that existed in Turkey during World War I and led to mass killings and deportations of Armenians that were later acknowledged by many historians and world governments as the first genocide of the 20th century.
On March 3, at a conference organized in Askale, Turkey’s Erzurum province, the city’s mayor Enver Basharan repeated Davutoglu’s remarks, thanking “the glorious ancestors who cleared this land and threw out the Armenians.”
According to Turkish media, before filing the lawsuit, human rights activists on Tuesday gathered near Istanbul’s Caglayan Justice Palace and issued a statement stressing that the actions of the Turkish Armed Forces that have been carried out in the Kurdish-populated regions of Turkey for months have been accompanied by racist rhetoric against Armenians.
“A genocide was perpetrated against Armenians, their wealth was confiscated, the cultural heritage of Armenians and other Christian nations was systematically destroyed. As if all this was not enough, the remaining handful of Armenians are being humiliated today, everything possible is being done to threaten their lives. All this has and will continue to be a crime against humanity in history. Upcoming generations will remember you for this. Discrimination in the highest level of the Turkish state continues and is encouraged. But there are those who will raise their voices against this crime until the end,” the members of the organization said, reports Armenia’s news agency Armenpress.
In an interview with Russia’s Kommersant daily earlier this week Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian also addressed the Turkish prime minister’s remarks. He said that he had an impression that the Turkish leadership was “losing the sense of reality.”
“Such a statement is a very serious signal to the international community about what may happen to the Kurds,” said Nalbandian, drawing parallels between Davutoglu’s anti-Armenian rhetoric and the statements and actions of Talaat Pasha, one of the Ottoman Empire rulers at the beginning of the 20th century, who also blamed Armenians for collaborating with Russia.
Acting as the minister of interior, Talaat Pasha ordered on April 24, 1915 the arrest and deportation of Armenian intellectuals in Constantinople (now Istanbul), most of them being ultimately murdered. The event marked the beginning of large-scale persecutions and reprisals against Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as a result of which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported from their homes. Talaat Pasha is widely considered to be the main perpetrator of the Armenian Genocide.
“It is obvious that little has changed in the ruling clique of Turkey over 100 years,” Nalbandian concluded.
Turkish PM says deportation is crime against humanity
May 1 2015
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said he has already highlighted that deportation is a crime against humanity, less than a day earlier his former interior minister, Efkan Ala, said that what the Ottoman Empire did to the Armenians a century ago was not “genocide” but deportation.
“I am not comparing the pain [of the people],” Davutoğlu said during a televised interview on TV 24 late on April 21.
“I have made open-hearted remarks on the issue. I said deportation is a crime against humanity, wherever it is,” he said, adding that he expressed his views to the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, before a vote at parliament, which decided to recognize the killing of Armenians 100 years ago in Anatolia as a “genocide.”
Schulz told Davutoğlu on April 17 that he “understands” Ankara’s reaction to the motion approved on April 15.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said even before the vote took place that he would ignore the result.
Davutoğlu said he never hesitated to express such things openly on the matter. “But if we are to talk about history, let’s speak about which tribes were destroyed under [European and American] colonial administrations. If these issues are to be discussed, then no one in the world can look in the face of the other.”
But Ala, who technically resigned from his post last month as he will run for parliament in the upcoming elections in June, said in the eastern province of Kars on April 22 that the Ottomans did not conduct a genocide against the Armenians but merely deported them.
“They are accusing us of genocide, and they are making such decisions,” he said, referring to the recent European Parliament motion.
“We deported them; deported,” he said.
Kars, along with neighboring Erzurum where Ala is running, is one of the Anatolian provinces from which the Armenian community was deported.
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Ankara Calls For Turkish-Armenian Dialogue
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday paid tribute to “untold” contributions of Armenians to the Ottoman Empire, again acknowledged their “inhuman” suffering in 1915 and renewed his government’s calls for a joint Turkish-Armenian study of their mass extermination.
In an op-ed article published in the London daily “The Guardian,” Davutoglu said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s unprecedented condolences extended to the descendants of 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks represent a unique chance for such a dialogue. But he gave no indication that Ankara is prepared to recognize the mass killings as genocide.
“Relations between Turks and Armenians date back centuries,” wrote Davutoglu. “As the Ottoman empire expanded, Turks and Armenians interacted in a multitude of ways. Armenians were among the best integrated communities in terms of enriching the social, cultural, economic and political life of the empire, and added untold value to the empire's development throughout cycles of war and peace.
“The influence of Ottoman Armenians in intellectual and artistic circles cannot be overstated … Edgar Manas, another Armenian, was one of the composers of the Turkish national anthem.
“Ottoman architecture of the 19th century was marked by works commissioned by the Ottoman sultans to Armenian architects, most notably builders of the Balyan family. Well known landmarks of Istanbul, such as the imperial palaces of Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi, are attributed to the Balyans, as are several significant mosques along the Bosphorus. “
“One of my predecessors, Gabriel Noradunkyan, served as foreign minister of the Ottoman Empire from 1912-13 and was a prominent Armenian figure in international affairs,” stressed Davutoglu.
Ottoman Armenians, continued Davutoglu, “suffered greatly” during World War I. “The consequences of the relocation of the large part of the Armenian community are unacceptable and inhuman,” he said, underlining a softening of the decades-long Turkish policy of genocide denial.
But like Erdogan, the chief Turkish diplomat seemed to equate that to the wartime displacement and deaths of many Ottoman Muslims which he said are still not recognized by the outside world. “Could Turkish and Armenian narratives not come closer together, could a ‘just memory’ not emerge?” he said. “Believing this can happen, Turkey proposed a joint commission composed of Turkish and Armenian historians to study the events of 1915. The findings of the commission, if established, would bring about a better understanding of this tragic period and hopefully help to normalize our relationship.”
The creation of such a body was envisaged by Turkish-Armenian normalization protocols which Davutoglu signed with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian in 2009. Ankara makes their ratification by Turkey’s parliament conditional on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Erdogan reaffirmed this precondition, rejected by Yerevan, during a recent visit to Azerbaijan.
Davutoglu said that Ankara now sees an “opportunity to recapture the engagement and conciliation that eluded us in 2009.” “The [April 23] statement by Prime Minister Erdogan is an unprecedented and courageous step taken in this direction,” he wrote in “The Guardian.”
The statement, which offered the Armenians first-ever official Turkish condolences, was welcomed by the United States and the European Union. However, the Armenian government dismissed it, saying that saying that Ankara is simply switching to a “more sophisticated” tactic of genocide denial.
Speaking in the Armenian parliament on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Nalbandian hit out at Erdogan for reportedly saying the fact that thousands of Armenians still live in Turkey means that the 1915 massacres did not constitute genocide. “Today a large number of Jews live in Germany, but no one would dare to call into question the reality of the Holocaust,” said Nalbandian. “Turkey had better follow Germany’s example through recognition, condemnation and apology.”