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    Edinburgh council causes diplomatic incident with Turkey

    Hürriyet Haber
    18.09.2005 - 11:24 | Son Güncelleme:

    An article was published on the Scottish website newscotsman.com on Sunday claiming that Edinburgh city council has caused a diplomatic incident with Ankara by proposing a motion on the so-called Armenian genocide. Instead of the council fixing the capital's roads and other known problems with parking wardens and sky-high council taxes, the writer says the only thing the council has done recently is to anger Turkey. Opposition politicians have accused the council of indulging in 1980s-style student politics.

    The article reports that A Turkish diplomat will be sent to Edinburgh from the Turkish embassy in London to stop the motion, as Ankara believes that it could damage Turkey's EU bid. And that the matter has been reported to the Turkish government in Ankara, and a high-ranking official is expected to arrive in Edinburgh to discuss the matter next month.
    Also reported was that Edinburgh council leader Donald Anderson has already enraged Turkey by telling its ambassador in a letter: "Having researched this issue, I am in no doubt that the Armenian community suffered a genocide at the hands of the Ottoman regime. There are substantial eyewitness accounts that are well documented and there is, I believe, wide support for the view that the historical evidence is robust and compelling for genocide."
    "As council leader I have to advise you that I am convinced of the need to support recognition for what I believe was genocide."
    While the move has been welcomed in the city by members of the Armenian community, it has puzzled and enraged Turks. The embassy did not give any official comment, with a source saying that they hoped they could deal with the issue by talking to the council.
    The source said: "We believe that raising this issue is calculated to damage Turkey's bid for EU membership and the country's reputation in the West.
    "We also believe that it is unhelpful to create divides between Muslims and the West at the very time we are seeking to promote the ideal of a modern and democratic Islam and coexistence.
    "You also wonder what this has to do with a Scottish city council. I would have thought they might have other things to deal with, like roads and so forth."
    Ian White, the Tory leader on the council, echoed these sentiments, saying: "Whatever the view on Turkey and Armenia it is not for councillors in this city to sort out. I would have thought they should focus on fixing roads and making sure that our streets are clean. It is a typical empty political gesture. One would have hoped they had grown up and put the era of 1980s student politics behind them."

    Anderson said: "Accusations of genocide are a very sensitive issue and we are attempting to deal with it as such. The accusations are made against the Ottoman regime and are no reflection on the modern Turkish state or Turkish people. I have met to discuss the issue with a range of representatives from the Turkish community and agreed to host a seminar for them to present their view on this period of history."
    Asked why it was felt necessary for the council to have a position on a historical issue which happened abroad, he said: "Although this isn't a particularly fashionable or high-profile issue, the council does from time to time become involved in issues that are not recognised as our core business. Apartheid would have lasted a lot longer if a wide cross section of organisations, including local authorities, had not campaigned."
    An aide to Anderson said he "strongly supports" Turkish membership of the EU.
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