Turkey's PM finds Obama call over Armenia deaths 'sensitive'

Obama used the Armenian expression "Meds Yeghern" while describing the incidents of 1915, just like he did in a similar statement last year.

Turkey's PM finds Obama call over Armenia deaths 'sensitive'

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that the statements of U.S. President Barack Obama about 1915 incidents showed the "sensitivity" of U.S. administration about the issue.

Turkey rejects the term and denies that up to 1.5 million Armenians died. It says many Muslim Turks and Kurds, as well as Christian Armenians, were killed in inter-communal violence as Russian forces invaded eastern Anatolia during World War One.

Earlier today, Obama, in his statement, used the Armenian expression "Meds Yeghern" (meaning "great tragedy" in Turkish) while describing the incidents of 1915, just like he did in a similar statement last year.

His remarks came as Armenia marked the 95th anniversary on Saturday of the World War One deaths of Armenians during Ottoman era.

"Great tragedy"

Obama described the incidents of 1915 as a "great tragedy" in a presidential statement he released on April 24.

In his message, Obama used the Armenian expression "Meds Yeghern", meaning "great tragedy" in Turkish, while describing the incidents of 1915, just like he did in a similar statement last year.

Obama said what happened in 1915 was "one of the worst atrocities" of the 20th century.

Pointing to the importance of drawing lessons from history, Obama said he had consistently stated his opinion regarding the incidents of 1915, adding his view on the matter had not changed.

"It is in all of our interest to see the achievement a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts," the U.S. President said.

Obama also said that the memory of the incidents should be kept alive in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Praising the Turks who saved Armenians in 1915, Obama said he was encouraged by the dialogue between Turks and Armenians, as well as within Turkey itself, regarding such painful history.

"Together, the Turkish and Armenian people will be stronger as they acknowledge their common history and recognize their common humanity," the president added.

Obama used the term genocide as a presidential candidate, but not since becoming president in January 2009.

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted a resolution on Armenian allegations related to the incidents of 1915 in a voting of 23-22 on March 4.

The full House has not voted on the measure and it is not clear whether it could pass.

U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton has said the Obama administration opposes the House measure.

The House panel vote had appeared to jeopardize progress by Armenia and Turkey to normalize relations, one key to stability in the south Caucasus, a region crisscrossed by oil and gas pipelines to Europe.

"Sensitivity"

Replying questions of reporters in Ankara, Erdogan said that Obama was "aware of the sensitivities" of Turkey and made his statement in this regard.

He added that the statement showed the sensitivity of U.S. administration about the issue.

Erdogan also said that Justice & Development (AK) Party would never overshadow the rights of Azerbaijan.

He said that the protocols which were signed with Armenia (for normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries) would not be put into effect before a regional peace was settled between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"Regret"

But Turkey's Foreign Ministry in a separate statement said, it "deeply regretted over the statement of Obama regarding 1915 incidents."

The ministry said on Saturday, "we deeply regret this statement which reflects an incorrect and one-sided political perception."

Turkish Foreign Ministry said, "written statements issued regularly each year on April 24th by the presidents of the United States has been repeated by President Obama this year as well."

"The toughest enemy of the historical facts are subjective memory records. No nation has the right to impose its memory records on another nation," noted the ministry.

It said, "third countries neither have a right nor authority to judge the history of Turkish-Armenian relations with political motives."

"Reconciliation"

Turkey and Armenia which have no diplomatic ties or economic relations since Turkey closed its border with Armenia since this country invaded the Upper-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in 1992, signed two protocols in October 2009, for normalisation of relations, after months-long Swiss-mediated talks.

Under the protocol, Turkey and Armenia reconfirmed their commitment, in their bilateral and international relations, to respect and ensure respect for the principles of "equality, sovereignty, non-intervention in internal affairs of other states, territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers".

Both Turkey and Armenian governments initiated the internal ratification process. Turkish government sent the protocols to the parliament. The protocol needs to be approved by the parliament in order for it to take effect. The Turkish government says it will not open the border unless Armenia ends its occupation of Upper-Karabakh.

Recently the Armenian Constitutional Court approved the protocols, however the tone of the court's reasoned verdict drew criticism from Turkey and Turkish officials who voiced their uneasiness in various platforms.

Finnally, Armenian President Serzh Sargsian announced on Thursday that Armenia was freezing its ratification of protocols with Turkey.

Last Mod: 25 Nisan 2010, 11:59
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