Calling Armenian killings ‘ordinary,’ Turkish PM urges Germany for ‘common sense’
ANKARATurkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has repeated a call on Germany for “common sense” over plans in the Bundestag to recognize the World War I massacres of Anatolian Armenians as genocide, arguing that the killings were “ordinary” events that took place in wartime conditions.
“This vote is a ridiculous vote,” Yıldırım told reporters on June 1, when asked about a planned vote on a resolution on the issue in Germany’s parliament scheduled for June 2.
“Ordinary events that could take place in any society or any country took place in 1915, under conditions of the World War I,” Yıldırım was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu Agency, speaking before his departure for Turkish Cyprus, his first official customary visit abroad.
“We know that those trying to hit Turkey with a bill are not well-intentioned. We are telling the entire world loud and clear that we have laid our cards on the table, let everything be researched,’” he added.
“But this should be done by historians. It would be wrong to use it as a tool for politics, for calculations in politics. There is no doubt that our relations [with Germany] would be harmed by the bill. We don’t want relations to be harmed,” Yıldırım said, recalling that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had already conveyed Ankara’s “uneasiness and concerns” during a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 31.
In comments to reporters before departing for an official visit to Africa on May 31, Erdoğan lashed out at those who he said were trying to “deceive” Germany over the 1915 events.
“If Germany is to be deceived by this, then bilateral diplomatic, economic, trade, political, and military ties - we are both NATO countries - will be damaged,” he said.
The comments came after he spoke to Merkel by telephone to express his concern about the resolution. Sources in both capitals said Erdoğan had initiated the call.
With his remarks on “research by historians,” Yıldırım was apparently referring a proposal offered by Ankara during Erdoğan’s tenure as prime minister. At the time, in a letter sent to then-Armenian President Robert Kocharian, he proposed the establishment of a joint commission of historians and experts from both Turkey and Armenia to study the events of 1915 together.
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.
‘Very good level of relations with EU’
“I hope the German parliament and decision-makers do not turn a deaf ear to voice of 3.5 million of their voters,” Yıldırım also said, referring to the large ethnic Turkish population in Germany.
“God willing, common sense will prevail and such an annoying decision won’t come up … In the past, similar resolutions were adopted in other countries. For us it is a null and void matter, but still we don’t want it to be adopted,” he added.
“Our relations with Germany and the European Union are at a very good level. Particularly in recent times we have made significant progress on the issues of visa liberalization, the readmission agreement and preventing illegal migration. Turkey is not a country that blackmails, utters threats and develops plans,” Yıldırım also said.
“We are committed to agreements we made until the end,” he added, referring to the recent migrant deal. “Let the European Union also stick to its promises. This is not a tribal state; the Republic of Turkey is a country with rooted state customs,” he added.