Erdoğan slams Merkel, EU over Armenian bill
AA photoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has harshened his tone against German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union over their stance on a vote by the German parliament to recognize the 1915 Armenian killings as “genocide.”
Referring to Germany’s guilt over the Holocaust, Erdoğan scoffed that it was the “last country” to make such accusations.
He added Germany would also be better advised to re-examine the slaughter of indigenous Namibians under the German Empire over a century ago, which Berlin has yet to officially term a genocide.
The president specifically criticized Merkel.
“They are not honest, they are not sincere,” he said during a conference in Istanbul on June 4.
“Hey Germany, what do you want to do? What is your problem? First, say it. When I talked to her [Merkel], do you know what she said to me three or four days before that incident? She said: ‘I will do my best,’” he said.
“Is it your best not to attend the vote in parliament? If you had an honest manner here, you would attend. Well, a lady voted no, the second no would have been your vote and I would applaud you,” Erdoğan said, adding that they were neither honest nor sincere.
The president said Turkey would never accept accusations the Ottoman Empire committed “genocide” against Armenians, saying the issue was being used as “blackmail” against Ankara.
“The issue here is not the Armenians.... The Armenian issue is used all over the world as convenient blackmail against Turkey and has even started to be used as a stick,” he said.
“I am addressing the whole world. You may like it, you may not. Our attitude on the Armenian issue has been clear from the beginning. We will never accept the accusations of genocide,” Erdoğan said.
The vote in the German parliament added yet another bone of contention to Turkey’s troubled relationship with the European Union, which it has sought to join since 1987.
“Either we find solutions to our problems in a fair way or Turkey will stop being a valve in front of the problems of Europe. We will leave you to your own worries,” Erdoğan added to cheers, without specifying further.
The dispute sparked alarm over the potential damage to relations between Turkey and Germany at a sensitive time when the two sides are working together to implement a deal seeking to halt illegal migration to the EU.
Erdoğan warned the EU against “hypocrisy” and using “your propaganda machines, Armenians or terror groups.”
“Don’t deliver blows below the belt in the media or the economy,” he added.
In speech later on June 4, Erdoğan repeated his call for a joint investigation of the 1915 killings.
“I am calling on the whole world,” Erdoğan said. “If you trust yourselves, respect history, science, document and information, we have opened all our archives; if you also have [such archives on the Armenian issue], you can also open it. Let us give the task to historians, legal experts and archaeologists, let them do their work and we can then give our consent to the results at the end of those efforts.”
Armenians say some 1.5 million of their people were killed in a campaign by Ottoman forces to wipe them from Anatolia, and seek international recognition of the killings as “genocide.”
But Turkey insists similar numbers of Muslims and Armenians were killed during wartime conflict sparked when Armenians joined forces with invading Russian troops in the hope of carving out their own state.
Erdoğan said in comments published in Turkish newspapers earlier that he wondered how German officials could look Turkey’s leaders in the face after the vote in the Bundestag, which prompted Ankara to withdraw its ambassador and warn of further consequences.
In a speech in his home town of Erzincan in Turkey’s east, Yıldırım accused the German parliament of “signing up to a lie.”
“These people who consider the relocation which happened everywhere in World War I 100 years ago as genocide should be aware that Turkey is proud of its history and nation,” he said.
“If we open the old books then it’s clear that the one to be held least to account is Turkey,” said the premier.