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    Turkey criticizes Obama for not mentioning slain Turks in 1915

    Hurriyet Daily News
    25.04.2009 - 10:59 | Son Güncelleme:

    ISTANBUL - Turkish President Abdullah Gul criticized Saturday U.S. President Barack Obama for not mentioning slain Turks during 1915 incidents. Turkish Foreign Ministry said some parts of the statement are “unacceptable”. (UPDATED)

    "There are some parts in the Obama's statement which I disagree. There hundreds of thousands Turks and Muslims who lost their lives in 1915. Therefore he should have shared the pain of everybody who lost their lives," Gul was quoted as saying by the state-run Anatolian Agency. His remarks are the first official reaction to Obama's statement.

     

    Obama, who pledged to recognize the Armenian claims regarding the 1915 incident during presidential campaign, refrained to use the word "genocide" while describing the events in his annual April 24 statement to mark the "day of remembrance of the Armenian deaths."

     

    Instead, he used the Armenian term for the killings, "Meds Yeghern" which has been variously translated into English as "The Great Calamity" or "Great Disaster." He also branded the events as "one of the great atrocities of the 20th century."

     

    Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Obama’s message, declaring some parts are unacceptable. "We consider some expressions in that statement and the perception of history it contains regarding the events of 1915, as unacceptable," the ministry said.

     

    The fact that several hundreds of thousands of Turks also lost their lives during the incidents should not be forgotten, the statement added. "History can be construed and evaluated only on the basis of undisputed evidence and documentation," it said, adding, on the other hand, Obama’s stance on the ongoing dialogue process between Turkey and Armenia is positive.

     

    Turkish opposition also expressed its displeasure with Obama's statement. The leader of Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, Devlet Bahceli, also said Saturday that the statement is "harsh and unacceptable".

    ARMENIANS DISSAPOINTED
    Armenian American groups criticized Obama for not keeping a campaign pledge to stick to the genocide characterization, saying he chose to allow Armenians position on the 1915 incidents to remain a hostage to Turkey's threats.”

    "I join with all Armenian Americans in voicing our sharp disappointment with President Obama's failure to honor his solemn pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide," Ken Hachikians, head of the Armenian National Committee of America, said in a written statement posted on the organization's Web site.

    "The president's statement today represents a retreat from his pledge and a setback to the vital change he promised to bring about in how America confronts the crime of genocide."

    Obama's statement came a while after Turkey and Armenia announced that under Switzerland's mediation they have agreed on a comprehensive framework for the normalization of ties between the two neighboring countries that have not had diplomatic relations for more than a decade. U.S. President extended his support to the normalization process.

    TURKS THANK PRESIDENT
    The Turkish Coalition of America, however, offered praise and thanked the President for refraining to use the word genocide by withstanding enormous political pressure in this respect.

    "We applaud President Obama for deferring to historians to settle the long-standing debate over the events of 1915-1918," said Lincoln McCurdy, the group's president.

    "This tragic period in history led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians alike. President Obama has sent a clear message to America and the world that his administration will not sacrifice long-term strategic allies for short-term political gains."

    Obama has sent a clear message to America and the world that his Administration will not sacrifice a long-term strategic alliance with Turkey for an issue that cannot be resolved by third parties and is best addressed jointly by Turks and Armenians, the statement on the organization's Web site added.

    The issue of the 1915 incidents is highly sensitive one both in Armenia and Turkey. Armenia , with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915.

    Turkey rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians, along with at least as many Turks, died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms, backed by Russia, for independence in eastern Anatolia .

    Turkey has offered to form a joint commission to investigate what happened in 1915 and has opened all official archives.

     

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