Top soldier, ministers engage in row with Armenian lawmaker at NATO meeting

Top soldier, ministers engage in row with Armenian lawmaker at NATO meeting

Turkey’s top soldier and technology minister got engaged in a row with an Armenian lawmaker on Nov. 20 during the 62nd NATO Parliamentary Assembly Annual Session held in Istanbul.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar reacted angrily to Armenian lawmaker Koryun Nahapetyan when the latter referred to the killings as “undeniable genocide” during a Q&A session after Akar’s briefing to the meeting.

“Some countries recognizing the Armenian genocide does not change anything,” Akar said in response to Nahapetyan, who said 26 countries recognized the killings as genocide.

“Any country may use its right to recognize something as genocide. When Galileo Galilei said in the 16th Century that the Earth moves around the Sun, all the world opposed him. But that did not change the facts. Even if all countries say that there is a genocide, that does not the change the fact that there was none,” he added.

Armenia says up to 1.5 million people were killed by Ottoman forces during World War I, in what it calls an act of genocide. But modern Turkey has always rejected the term genocide, putting the toll at 500,000 and blaming the deaths on starvation and unrest in the broader context of the war. 

Nahapetyan also addressed a similar question to Turkish Science, Industry and Technology Minister Faruk Özlü, who refused to answer the question.

Another row erupted during a session on Nov. 19 between Nahapetyan and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, when the Armenian lawmaker accused Ankara of financially supporting then Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“We may have different opinions, but we must first be honest, especially if we are politicians,” Çavuşoğlu said in response. 

“Unfortunately, our Armenian friends are never honest. How can you say that we supported Daesh? Which country has killed as many Daesh militants as Turkey?” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadist group.