International

Armenian community leaders in Turkey denounce U.S. decision on ‘massacre’ of 1915

Armenian community leaders in Turkey Saturday denounced U.S. decision on Armenian ‘massacre’ of 1915 .

Bedros Sirinoglu, the chief of Armenian Foundations Union in Istanbul, told Anadolu Agency all interventions by those who are not parties to the 2015 events "will only deepen our wounds."

"We do not approve of the handling and use of some painful and saddening events that took place between the two nations more than 100 years ago by political authorities. We are against the instrumentalisation of our sorrows by daily politics," Bedros Sirinoglu said.

"The deplorable events in history can be discussed by Armenian and Turkish state authorities as well as objective historians," he said. "But as far as I see, those who get involved in the issue with political motives, the US, the EU and some other countries are far from being well-intentioned."

"The pre-condition of empathizing with the Armenian nation should not be tarnishing the Turkish nation's honor or having hostile attitude towards Turkey. As a Turkish citizen, I believe we need to reinforce the love, respect, and friendship between the two communities, leaving no place for grudge or hatred," he added.

Armenian Orthodox Patriarch

Sahak Masalyan, the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch, also criticized the use of 1915 events as a political tool.

"It saddens us to see that the suffering of our people and the suffering of our ancestors are instrumentalized by some countries for everyday political purposes," Masalyan said adding:

"The tension caused by the usage of the issue in parliamentary agendas for decades has not served the rapprochement of the two nations, on the contrary, it provokes hostile feelings and delays peace."

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered condolences on Saturday to Sahak Maşalyan for the Armenian population of Ottoman Empire who lost their lives during the “difficult conditions” of World War I.

"I commemorate with respect the Ottoman Armenians who have lost their lives in the difficult conditions of World War I, and I extend my condolences to their grandchildren," the president said adding that the politicization of the issue against Turkey, which needs to be researched by historians, does not benefit anyone.

Biden’s statement

U.S. President Biden described the killings of Ottoman Armenians during World War I as "genocide" in a statement released Saturday, becoming the first U.S. president to use the controversial term.

In an attempt to limit the expected uproar from its NATO ally, Biden had reportedly informed Erdoğan of his intent to issue the statement in question during their call on Friday.

"We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring," Biden said. "And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms," he said.

"We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated," Biden said. With the acknowledgement, Biden followed through on a campaign promise he made a year ago.

Turkey says any U.S. recognition of Armenian 'genocide' would further harm ties

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that any move by U.S. President Joe Biden to recognize the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as a genocide will further harm already strained ties between the NATO allies.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry Saturday denounced the US statement and said that it will open a “deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship.”

“We call on the US President to correct this grave mistake, which serves no purpose other than to satisfy certain political circles and to support the efforts aiming to establish a practice of peaceful coexistence in the region, especially among the Turkish and Armenian nations, instead of serving the agenda of those circles that try to foment enmity from history,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained over a host of issues, from Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems - over which it was the target of U.S. sanctions - to policy differences in Syria, human rights and legal matters.

There Was No Genocide: Professor Bernard Lewis

Tellingly, prominent History Professor Bernard Lewis says he feels the sufferings of the Armenian people but objects to the comparison made to the Holocaust.

In an interview to the Israeli daily Haaretz on January 23, 1998, Prof Lewis said: “The Armenians want to benefit from both worlds. On the one hand, they speak with pride of their struggle against the Ottoman despotism, while on the other hand, they compare their tragedy to the Jewish Holocaust. I do not accept this. I do not say that the Armenians did not suffer terribly. But I find enough cause for me to contain their attempts to use the Armenian massacres to diminish the worth of the Jewish Holocaust and to relate to it instead as an ethnic dispute.”

Turkey's position on the 1915 events is that the death of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties, added by massacres from militaries and militia groups of both sides. The mass arrests of prominent Ottoman Armenian politicians, intellectuals and other community members suspected of links with separatist groups, harboring nationalist sentiments and being hostile to the Ottoman rule were rounded up in then-capital Istanbul on April 24, 1915, commemorated as the beginning of later atrocities.

Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.

—Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofmaerica.net) email: asghazali2011@gmail.com