Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
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.