Erdogan Says Armenia will ‘insult’ Turkey During Ceremonies
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that Turkey would instead be “discussing peace” when it hosts events commemorating the centennial of the World War I Gallipoli campaign. He rejected accusations that Turkey planned the ceremonies April 23-25 to compete with the April 24 events in Yerevan.
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks, an event viewed as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide.
Officials say President Barack Obama will stop short of calling the 1915 massacre a genocide.
Erdogan said: “I would not like to hear such a thing from Obama.”
One of Turkey’s worst nightmares is that President Barack Obama would acknowledge the killings as a genocide on the April 24 anniversary but comments by US officials have indicated that this will not be the case.
“I wouldn’t want to hear Obama say something like this. I didn’t expect it anyway. For Turkey, where the US stands is very clear,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Ankara.
“We have talked about this issue a lot (with Obama) and said that it should be left to the historians, not the politicians.”
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu added: “In the light of his experience as US president, I am hoping that Mr Obama will not make a statement that will offend Turkey.”
Davutoglu also said he had spoken to German Chancellor Angela Merkel by telephone and urged her “to take the initiative” and persuade the German parliament not to recognise the killings as genocide in a vote on April 24.
Turkey will mark the 100th anniversary of the World War I battle of Gallipoli on April 24-25 in a major event with dozens of world leaders in attendance.
Erdogan said Armenia “will not be on the agenda” during those ceremonies, which Yerevan has accused Ankara of deliberately bringing forward by one day to overshadow its commemorations of the killings.
“They will talk and talk and insult Turkey,” he said of the planned April 24 commemorations in Yerevan.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes avoided using the word genocide when hosting Armenian American leaders at the White House to discuss the centennial.
McDonough and Rhodes “discussed the significance of this occasion for honouring the 1.5 million lives extinguished during that horrific period,” the council said in a statement.