Babacan Says Armenia Apology Could ‘Harm’ Reconciliation

ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ali Babacan claimed on Friday that an apology by Turkish intellectuals for what they call the “Great Catastrophe” in 1915 could hurt reconciliation efforts with Armenia.

"This is a sensitive issue for Turkey. There is a negotiation process going on [with Armenia]…. This kind of debate is of no use to anyone especially at a time talks continue and it may harm the negotiation process," Babacan was quoted by the Anatolian news agency as saying.

Babacan’s commen’s came on the same day Turkey’s powerful generals said they opposed the Internet initiative, which had garnered nearly 14,000 signatures by its fourth day.

"We definitely think that what is done is not right. Apologizing is wrong and can yield harmful consequences," Brigadier General Metin Gurak, spokesman for the General Staff, told a news conference.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday denounced the campaign, saying it had no other benefit than "stirring up trouble, disturbing our peace, and undoing the steps which have been taken."

"If there is a crime, then those who committed it can offer an apology. My nation, my country has no such issue," he said.

President Abdullah Gul, however, has hailed the initiative as proof of Turkey’s democratic health. He became the first Turkish leader to visit Armenia in September as Turkey sought to end almost 100 year of animosity.

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