Erdogan Dismisses Foreign Pressure on Armenian Issue

The New Anatolian
19 May 2005

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Ankara
rejects outsiders' "lobbying efforts" on the so-called Armenian
genocide, and said other countries should open their archives on
the period.

Erdogan's comments at the 46-nation Council of Europe summit came after
Armenia's president, Robert Kocharian, speaking at the same gathering
on Monday, had underlined his country's call for the killings to be
recognized as genocide.

Erdogan belittled Kocharian's speech, describing his words as,
"Playing for the tribunes and self-satisfaction."

"We do not appreciate any lobbying efforts that do not have their
basis in documents," Erdogan said. "Taking action in other parliam
ents will not have positive effects on the issue."

Erdogan recently sent a letter to the Armenian president inviting
Armenia to set up a committee of historians to jointly research the
killings. "We are opening up our military archives and we ask for
Armenia to do the same," he said yesterday. "If other countries have
pertinent information, let them open their archives."

Several countries, including Argentina, Canada, France, and Russia,
have declared the killings as genocide, and there is strong pressure
from Armenians worldwide for the U.S. Congress to recognize the
killings as genocide as well.

Erdogan reacted to the international pressure by threatening to pass
a similar decision in the Turkish Parliament. "If they go further in
their attempt to pressure Turkey, we will pass a similar decision
from our Parliament against countries that have committed genocide
in history," he said during the press conference after the meeting.

Calling on world leaders to build the future on love and peace,
rather than hatred and enmity, Erdogan criticized the countries
whose parliaments have formally accepted the events of the early
1900s as genocide.

"You should understand this: These kinds of decisions will never
bind us," Erdogan said. "We convey our thoughts very sincerely to
Kocharian. And they reply to us with a document containing a more
positive approach compared to that of the past. We hope that they
will improve this approach in a positive way."

Asked about a possible decision by the Belgian Parliament to crimalize
denying the Armenian genocide, Erdogan was highly critical.

"I could not place these kind of decisions anywhere within the legal
platform," he said. "I think that any decision of an unrelated country
on this issue would be unlawful."

Stressing that Turkey has taken some positive steps towards normalizing
its relations with Armenia such as opening its airspace to Armenian
planes and the restoration of the Armenian church at Van, Erdogan
added, "We're sending out these signals. If they don't receive them,
I will only leave them to the appreciation of humanity."