WWI inflicted pain on everyone, Davutoğlu says

WWI inflicted pain on everyone, Davutoğlu says

EDIRNE - Hürriyet Daily News
WWI inflicted pain on everyone, Davutoğlu says

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) shakes hands with his French counterpart Alain Juppe (L) during a press conference in Ankara on Nov 18. AFP photo

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called on Armenians and other nations who lived under Ottoman rule to share the pain suffered during World War I but also show respect to Turkish suffering.

Speaking at a conference in Edirne yesterday, Davutoğlu said French politicians “are trying to build a new history on the suffering of others.

“Every nation thinks its suffering is unique; however, we can understand the suffering of all nations because we suffered the most,” the minister told the conference at Trakya University titled “From Balkan War to Balkan Peace: Turkish Foreign Policy on its 100th Anniversary.”

“We respect our neighbors with whom we lived together for 10 centuries. We invite them to share our common pains on condition they respect ours,” he said. He also pointed to the huge loss of life Turks suffered during the dissolution years of the Ottoman Empire when it was invaded by Western powers. “To expect people to forget their own pain and to declare a nation guilty by birth without even giving it the right to self-defense is unacceptable,” the minister said. “A common history does not mean a history with one-sided suffering that forgets the suffering of another nation.”

Referring to the French bill criminalizing the denial of Armenian “genocide,” Davutoğlu called on the French Senate, which is the next legislative stage for the bill, “not to make imperialist plans on the suffering of others.”

He pointed to the example of the Republic of Turkey founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who embarked on a mission of reconciliation with Greece after he led the Turkish victory against invading Greek troops during the Turkish War of Independence.

“He did not build a nation upon hostility. He could have incited his people as the founder of a new nation state, and could have made his nation keep its pain alive. However, he did not do so but instead extended his hand to [Greek leader] Venizelos, because a leader like Atatürk was the outcome of a 10 century blend,” Davutoğlu said.

“I am not saying it only for [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy. French leaders have progressed by making other nations suffer, and now they are trying to build a new history on the suffering of others,” he said.

In further remarks, Davutoğlu urged the European Union to lift visa restrictions for trips between Balkan cities and Turkey. “Those who put visa barriers between Turkey and Europe are the ones who stand in the way of the normalization of history,” Davutoğlu said. He charged that some countries were “trying to build a wall between Edirne and Skopje,” but “one day that wall will collapse.”