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Visiting Palestinian President Abbas (L) presents Turkish PM Erdoğan an honorary
doctorate of the University of Jerusalem during his visit to the capital, Ankara. Daily News Photo

Visiting Palestinian President Abbas (L) presents Turkish PM Erdoğan an honorary doctorate of the University of Jerusalem during his visit to the capital, Ankara. Daily News Photo

Sevil Erkuş Sevil Erkuş sevil.kucukkosum@hdn.com.tr

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has canceled a planned visit to New York City for the U.N. General Assembly, citing a busy schedule and preparations for his party’s upcoming convention, his office said yesterday. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will represent Turkey at the United Nations in place of Erdoğan, the statement said.

The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) fourth congress on Sept. 30, the prime minister’s hesitation at going abroad amid increased militant activity, as well as the lack of a chance to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama, were all cited as three reasons for Erdoğan’s last-minute cancelation, according to a source from the Prime Ministry.

The AKP’s upcoming big congress will see the participation of nearly 10 government heads and foreign presidents, spurring Erdoğan to pay close attention to the organization of the gathering as he plans to hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines.

Prime Minister Erdoğan also expressed hesitation at being abroad for a long period of time amid tense fighting between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish Armed Forces, according to the same source.

U.S. President Barack Obama, with whom Erdoğan had wanted to meet, is also only expected to participate in one session of the U.N. General Assembly due to his presidential election campaign schedule and would not have the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with Erdoğan and other world leaders.

There were no other significant bilateral meetings on Erdoğan’s schedule as Obama’s expected absence meant many other leaders were also choosing to stay away.

“Our martyrs, who have lost their lives in many corners of the world, will never be forgotten,” Davutoğlu said.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird also spoke during the ceremony. “Sadly, both Turkey and Canada have lost talented and distinguished diplomats through senseless acts of violence directed at our countries,” said Baird. “Recent events prove, tragically, that the dangers facing diplomats and public servants in foreign postings are still an unfortunate reality.”

The monument in Ottawa stands on the spot where Altıkat was assassinated on his way to work by gunmen from the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA). The gunmen fired a number of shots at Altıkat while he was stopped at a red light, killing him instantly.

The cone-shaped wood and metal monument, designed and built by a Turkish team headed by sculptor Azimet Karaman, is intended also to restore good relations between Canada and Turkey.

A row erupted between the two countries a number of years ago over Ottawa’s recognition of what it terms the Armenian genocide of 1915. The monument’s large, open face points upward toward the “gateway of eternity,” while the winnowed base points downward into the “gateway of time,”
according to the dedication. A series of metal prisms lining the monument represent the fallen; a single prism located at the base pays special tribute to Altıkat.

The militant group ASALA, active from 1975 to 1991, claimed responsibility for around 200 attacks on Turkish diplomatic and non-diplomatic institutions and was responsible for the deaths of 58 people, 34 of whom were Turkish diplomats.

ASALA, which demanded territory in eastern Turkey for what it termed the Armenian genocide, was listed as a terrorist organization by the United States until it disbanded.

September/22/2012

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