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Эрдоган: "Our ancestors could never have done anything like that"
Armenian National Committee
San Francisco - Bay Area
51 Commonwealth Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118
Tel: (415) 387-3433
Fax: (415) 751-0617
Contact: Roxanne Makasdjian (415) 641-0525
TURKISH PRIME MINISTER DEFENDS TURKEY IN SAN FRANCISCO
"Our ancestors could never have done anything like that"
San Francisco, July 7, 2005 - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was the guest speaker at a late-breaking World Affairs Council program at the Fairmont Hotel. Erdogan spoke for about an hour, addressing issues including recognition of the Armenian Genocide and relations with Armenia, his country's attempt to become more democratic and accession to the European Union, the fight against terrorism, Turkey's alliances with the West, relations with Greece, Cyprus and the island's inclusion in the EU.
Among the approximately 350 people in attendance were representatives from various countries' embassies, Turkish government officials, a large number of Turkish residents of the Bay Area, and others. About 20 Armenian-Americans greeted attendees at the Fairmont Hotel with informational flyers and picket signs outlining Erdogan's recently amplified denial of the Armenian Genocide. About 20 Armenian-Americans also attended Erdogan's speech, submitting questions to him about Armenian Genocide recognition and Turkey's ongoing record of human and civil rights abuses.
Speaking through an interpreter, the Turkish Prime Minister spoke for several minutes about the Armenian Case. He derided the Armenian-American community for "always creating lobbies," which he said didn't achieve anything, and said Armenian-Americans should stop bringing up the issue, calling on the U.S. to help build "constructive relationships" between the two countries.
Labelling the Armenian Genocide "unfounded propaganda," Erdogan remarked on resolutions passed by various nations recognizing the Armenian Genocide. "Irrelevent countries and people are taking decisions... I don't really care," he said.
"We have no feelings of hostility in ourselves," said Erdogan, pointing to Turkey's opening of cargo flights to Armenia, and its step towards reconstructing the Akhtamar church. He said his government has even asked Armenia to provide an architect for the project, to avoid accusations that it would be rebuilt incorrectly. Armenian-Americans in the audience grumbled aloud at the sad irony of so many of their historic churches having been intentionally destroyed, used as death chambers for their ancestors during the Genocide, and as barns today.
Touching on Karabagh, Erdogan neglected to describe the origins of the war over the Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, saying the Council of Europe had declared Armenians in Karabagh as the aggressors in the war.
Audience questions were submitted on index cards to the moderator, who said hundreds of questions had been submitted and she grouped them into categories: developments in the region/Iraq; domestic situation/economy & religion; entry into EU; and relations with Armenia.
After lengthy answers to each, Erdogan remarked on the prospect of Armenian Genocide recognition posing a problem for Turkey's accession to the EU. The Prime Minister said there was no Armenian clause in the recent Copenhagan agreement on requirements for EU admission, and that Europe should not add more criteria. "That phase is over."
Erdogan received loud applause when he said, "If we need to face our own history, we will face our own history." He then received boos when he added, "But we're very proud and confident. Our ancestors could never have done anything like that."
Erdogan said he suggested to Armenian president Robert Kocharian that historians and "scientists" of law and archives should bring their findings, and then politicians should discuss it and come to a decision. This statement also garnered strong applause.
Erdogan also spoke broadly about his government's efforts to stem corruption and fraud among officials, as well as the growth of Turkish trade, tourism, and per capita income.
A Groong(.org), To Groong - an old motto
A Yeram, To Yeram - a new one
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