Armenian Weekly
Mon, May 31 2010

Argentina-On May 31, the ANC of South America, a body of the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation (ARF), issued a statement welcoming Buenos
Aires officials' decision to block the unveiling of Ataturk's bust in
the capital. The statement came on the heels of the cancellation of
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's trip to Buenos Aires,
after Argentina's Armenian community protested the planned unveiling
of Ataturk's bust.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan The statement highlighed the
continuities between the genocidal Young Turk government of 1915 and
the Turkish Republic established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, noting
that the policy of Armenian Genocide denial "was born with Ataturk
and is continued today by Prime Minister Erdogan's government." The
unveiling of Ataturk's bust in Buenos Aires is an insult not only
to the Armenian community in Argentina, but to all Argentinians,
the ANC of Argentina noted.

"The responsibility for the cancellation of the Turkish delegation's
visit falls squarely on Prime Minister Erdogan's shoulders," underlined
the ANC of South America.

According to reports from Argentina's "Armenia" newspaper, Turkish
diplomats in Argentina had stepped up genocide denial efforts
following the successful passage of a 2007 law that condemned
the Armenian Genocide. Using the so-called "historical commission"
envisioned in the Turkey-Armenia Protocols, the Turkish Ambassador to
Argentina Hayri Hayet Yalav had launched an extensive public relations
campaign, coinciding with the 95th anniversary of this crime, inviting
Argentinean public officials on trips to Turkey and promoting closer
Turkish-Argentinian cultural relations.

The Turkish embassy had quietly approached Buenos Aires officials to
sidestep local laws requiring public notice and hearings regarding the
installation of statues on public property, securing an agreement to
replace an existing statue of an Egyptian human rights activist with
that of Ataturk. The plan was uncovered by the ANC of South America
just one week prior to the official installation of Ataturk's bust.

Within days, a joint Argentina-Armenian Community effort was
launched-including letters to the editor and a public statement in
major local newspapers-resulting in a May 28th meeting with Buenos
Aires city Minister of Parks Diego Santili. The latter rescinded
the decision.

An angry Prime Minister Erdogan pressured Argentina President Kirchner
to overturn the Buenos Aires decision to no avail. Erdogan cancelled
his trip to Argentina along with his trip to Chile the following day.

An interesting side note: The "Armenia" newspaper reports that Turkish
Embassy officials had extended invitations to the Ataturk statue
unveiling to Argentina Armenians with Turkish passports, threatening
them to attend the ceremony or face difficulty in renewing their
travel documents.

From: A. Papazian