Erdogan Worried Over Obama’s Commitment to Genocide Recognition

ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–Speaking Tuesday on the occasion of the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters he hoped the new president’s pledges to recognize the Armenian Genocide do not materialize.

In an apparent reference to the strong pledges made by Obama to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, Erdogan said he expected certain ideas expressed by Obama during his election campaign to remain just part of campaigning and not to be developed further by the White House in the new term.

He said changes in the administrations of the US and Turkey have never altered the characteristics of bilateral relations between the countries, supposedly based on mutual strategic interests.

Erdogan also said relations with US President-elect Barack Obama’s administration should continue in the same vein as before.

“The burden on the shoulders of the United States is very different compared to other countries, as it is a strong country with more opportunities in its hands. Obama will carry such a burden at a time of global crisis. The US has a much larger responsibility to contribute to global peace. At this point, we must assess some rhetoric that appeared during the election campaign that we hope was limited to the campaign and will remain there,” the prime minister added, referring to Obama’s strong stance on recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Noting that mutual strategic interests have always been a determining factor in bilateral relations between Turkey and the United Sates, Erdogan expressed hope that the this relationship would not be harmed by the new administration taking office. The prime minister didn’t exclude the possibility of having a meeting with Obama when he travels to Washington later this month to attend a financial summit of the Group of 20 (G-20) countries called by current US President George W. Bush.

“We will try to have a meeting if Obama’s hectic schedule to form his cabinet lets him spare time for such a meeting,” Erdogan said, while, on his final note, he wished for Obama’s term to contribute to democracy, peace and solidarity in the world as well as to the Middle East peace process.

President Abdullah Gul, at a joint press conference with Azerbaijan’s visiting President Ilham Aliyev, also congratulated Obama on his victory, saying he wished Obama’s presidency will cement stability and security not only for the American people, but for the entire world.

“I hope that a new presidency begins for the entire world,” Gul said. In Rome, while participating in a Turkish-Italian forum, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan echoed the same sentimen’s of Gul and Erdogan when asked about Obama’s election.

“We hope the US will make more contributions to the world’s peace, security and stability after these elections,” Babacan said, noting that the Turkish government has been in contact with Obama’s staff already. The minister also said the foreign policy issues of priority for Ankara and Washington match each other to a large extent, as these issues are related to the geography in the region surrounding Turkey.


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