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SERKAN DEMİRTAŞ

serkan.demirtas@hurriyet.com.tr

SERKAN DEMİRTAŞ >The pope, the European Parliament… Is Obama next on the genocide bid?

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As a long-time diplomatic correspondent, I have closely followed Turkey’s diplomatic struggle against world-wide efforts for the recognition of the Armenian genocide. An overall analysis would openly put that Turkey failed in its efforts to take an efficient stand against very well-orchestrated campaigns of the Armenian diaspora and the state of Armenia. 

Around two dozen countries have already acknowledged the mass deportation of Armenians during World War I as genocide, along with many more national and local parliaments throughout the world. More importantly, the world’s public opinion has already been convinced about the accuracy of Armenian claims and that Turks committed - as the Pope said - the first genocide of the 20th century on more than one-and-half million Armenians. 

When he was elected pontiff two years ago, there were strong concerns that he might recognize the genocide because the fact he already had in 2006 because of his Argentinian origin. Argentina acknowledged the Armenian genocide in 1993 in solidarity with its strong Armenian community, whose ancestors migrated from Anatolia as a result of mass deportation.

The Pope’s recognition is of course very important, as it could be seen as a call for other Christian countries to follow in his foot prints and acknowledge the 1915 incidents as genocide. It’s for sure going to be influential on many members of the European Parliament during a vote on the recognition of the Armenian genocide April 15. 

Ankara is of the opinion that the European Parliament will vote for the recognition of the genocide and is already planning its counter-statement, as well as its concrete reaction. There is no doubt that this will deal another blow on already ruined ties between Ankara and Brussels. There are some other countries that are discussing how to show their sensitivity and solidarity with Armenia on the centennial commemoration of the 1915 incidents without hurting their relationship with Turkey much.

As Turkey is going to host a number of countries for the 100th year of the Gallipoli Battle on the same day as the Armenian commemoration of the centennial of the genocide in Yerevan, many countries are opting for a balanced participation in both events. 

As this column was written late afternoon April 14, there was no official announcement from Washington on how it would be represented in Turkey, while the United States’ Ambassador to Yerevan, Richard Mills, said, “The United States will be officially represented by a delegation, named by the president, at the memorial events in Yerevan. We expect to announce the members of the delegation soon,” according to Armenpress.

Sending a presidential delegation to Yerevan cannot be seen as strong evidence that President Barack Obama will use the word genocide in his annual April 24 declaration. 

One other important aspect of all of these developments is the fact that Turkey’s reputation is speedily going down in the Western world because of the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s incorrect foreign policy preferences. A country with poor democratic and human rights records under a president seeking an authoritarian rule, with sectarian-driven policies in its region is always vulnerable. The government, the president and entire Turkish people have all witnessed and continue to witness this vulnerability.

April/15/2015

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