Opposition leaders have accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of failing to explain the "other side" of the Armenian killings in 1915 under the Ottoman Empire to U.S. President Barack Obama.
"Even if the president and prime minister had not found a chance to explain the Armenian issue to Obama, they could have presented American professor Justin McCarthy’s book to him," main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, leader Deniz Baykal said, speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting yesterday. McCarthy is known for his books in which he denies genocide accusations against the Ottoman Empire. Characterizing the government’s stance on Obama’s address as "distressing," Baykal criticized Erdoğan’s statement that the U.S. president sought a balanced approach in delivering his speech.
"Obama has adopted Armenia and the Armenian diaspora’s terminology for the 1915 events. The other side of the events was disregarded," Baykal said, arguing that many people of Kurdish and Turkish origin were also killed during the same period. Obama used the term "Meds Yeghern," or "The Great Catastrophe," which is used by Armenians to refer to the 1915 events. Regarding the accusations against Turkey, Baykal said no person or state could be accused of a "crime against humanity" without the ruling of an authorized court.
"Obama’s speech came after Turkey’s announcement that it has reached an agreement with Armenia on the road map," Baykal said, adding that the situation makes the event more problematic.
"The process did not resolve the matter or improve relations with Armenia, yet it has adversely affected our relations with Azerbaijan," he noted. Saying that Turkey should understand Azerbaijan’s unease, especially over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, Baykal underlined that Turkey’s friendship with Azerbaijan -- not the Justice and Development Party, or AKP -- is what is permanent.
Besides underscoring Turkey’s disappointment in Obama’s speech, Baykal also drew attention to the AKP government’s foreign policies. "Whenever the AKP government sits at the table, the one that always loses is Turkey," he said. "We have lost Azerbaijan’s friendship. We received promises at NATO, but none of them were fulfilled." Turkey is also losing in terms of European Union accession, Baykal added.
The CHP chief also touched upon the latest developments over the Lighthouse e.V. case during his speech and called for Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin’s resignation.
"Turkey had been waiting for the translation of the file on the Lighthouse e.V. case for months. But now it has been learned that Germany sent the file to Turkey in Turkish," he said, adding that Şahin should leave his post immediately. Opposition Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, leader Devlet Bahçeli also accused Erdoğan of acting inconsistently on the Armenia issue. "The government should revise its Armenia policy, taking into account Turkey’s benefits," Bahçeli said. "If you claim that Obama does not know the historical facts, why did not you bring Obama to Iğdır in order to show him the monument that was erected in memory of our citizens who were killed by Armenians?" "If the government sticks with its ways, if it is flattered as it is now, we will face new national defeats," Bahçeli said, adding that if the U.S. Congress sacrifices Turkey for the political support of the Armenian diaspora, everybody would suffer the results, including Armenia. Bahçeli also criticized Erdoğan’s statement about the Azerbaijani deputies’ visit to Turkey.