Turkey Criticizes Obama for Not Marking ‘Suffering of Turks’ on April 24

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkey has criticized US President Barack Obama for his statement to the Armenian-American community on the 94th anniversary of the Genocide, claiming it was an unbalanced view of history and ignored the suffering of Turks.

“We consider some expressions in [Obama’s] statement and the perception of history it contains concerning the events of 1915 as unacceptable,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily Newspaper reported.

According to Hurriyet, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, James Jeffrey, was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday for consultations.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said that Obama’s message had failed to mention the “several hundreds of thousands of Turks,” which Turkey claims died during the same period, when the Ottoman Empire was waging a two front war against the Western Allies.
The statement echoed warnings by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday that “political meddling” would not help a tentative dialogue between Ankara and Yerevan to mend ties.

“This message does not satisfy us,” Erdogan was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as telling reporters in Istanbul. “Everyone must avoid statements that would overshadow the normalization process.”

Turkish President Abdullah Gul Saturday also criticized President Obama for not honoring the Turks in his message.

In his statement, issued on Friday April 24, President Obama broke his campaign pledge to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide, evading the word genocide and instead using the Armenian phrase for Great Calamity–a tactic used repeatedly by President George Bush to placate Turkish demands on the United States to stay silent on the issue.

As a senator and presidential candidate, Obama had sharply criticized the Bush administration for diplomatic tiptoeing around the critical human rights issue. He had repeatedly promised to bring change to the White House on the Armenian Genocide, by promising a “principled commitment to commemorating and ending genocide.” On January 19, 2008, Obama vowed that as president, “I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

His failure to properly recognize the Genocide came after the Armenian government issued a joint statement with Turkey announcing the two sides had agreed on a “roadmap” for normalizing bilateral relations.

Ankara had leveraged its diplomatic rapprochement with Yerevan to scuttle US recognition of the Armenian Genocide, warning President Obama that an official recognition of its crime against the Armenian people would hurt US-Turkish relations and torpedo efforts to normalize relations with Armenia. The warning was designed to prevent recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the US President.

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