Turkey rejects European pressure for Armenian genocide recognition


Turkey will not bow to European Union pressure to recognize the World
War I killings of Armenians as genocide as a condition for joining
the EU, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said Thursday.

"We are witnessing efforts to bring many issues not directly related
to our (EU) membership process before us as covert conditions," among
them allegations that more than a million Armenians were victims of
genocide under Ottoman rule, Sezer told a press conference at the
military academy here.

"It is wrong and unjust for our European friends to press Turkey on
these issues," he said. "They should know that it is not possible for
demands imposed on us and devoid of just foundations to be accepted."

Turkey has recently faced mounting calls from within the EU, which
it hopes to join, to acknowledge the massacres as genocide, something
it systematically rejects.

Some EU politicans have said that the genocide claims will be one
of the issues Turkey must address as it prepares to launch lengthy
membership talks with the EU on October 3.

"These claims (of genocide) upset and hurt the feelings of the Turkish
nation," Sezer said. "What needs to be done is research, investigate
and discuss history, based on documents and without prejudice.

"The basis of such discussions should be scientific and not political,"
he said.

The Armenian massacres of World War I are one of the most controversial
episodes in Turkish history.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in orchestrated
killings nine decades ago during the final years of the Ottoman Empire,
the predecessor of modern Turkey.

Turkey, on the other hand, argues that 300,000 Armenians and thousands
of Turks were killed in what was civil strife during World War I when
the Armenians, bacvked by Russia, rose against their Ottoman rulers.