COPENHAGEN (Combined Sources)–Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA) gathering in Denmark that Turkey expects the same positive attitude from Armenia that it has been displaying to its neighbor recently. He stressed–however–that the genocide of Armenia’s has never been a part of Turkish history.
He noted that Turkey has recently opened air-space between the two countries–has begun to reconstruct an Armenian church in Akhtamar in historical Armenia–and has agreed to share its national archives with historians–reported the Anadolu news agency.
"Genocide has never been a part of our history. It is a serious mistake to accuse a government–which had to relocate some of its people due to uprisings–of genocide,” Erdogan emphasized.
He also told NATO PA that Turkey’s EU membership would confirm that Islam and Christianity can co-exist in peace. Humanity needs peace and prosperity–so such exclusions [rejecting Turkey’s EU bid] will not bring peace and tranquility,” said Erdogan.
He also warned that Turkey’s exclusion would be "a dangerous" move for Europe particularly and the the West generally–describing it as a ”a separation of path” with the Islamic world.
Erdogan did opt–however–to part paths with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen–refusing to attend a joint press conference with the Danish leader.
Erdogan declined to take part in the briefing at Rasmussen’s office in Copenhagen–claiming that the TV station–Roj TV–was controlled by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party–or PKK.
The Turkish prime minister was meeting with Rasmussen as he tours European capitals to discuss the prospects of Turkey’s EU membership bid.
Rasmussen condemned Erdogan’s decision–saying it is a “basic principle that no government should in any way influence the freedom of the media,” adding that “precisely the principle of freedom of speech is absolutely fundamental as far as EU membership goes. It’s crucial that applicant countries 100 percent fulfil the political criteria–including freedom of expression.”
“There is no official comment–and the events are self-explanatory,” said a spokeswoman at Turkey’s embassy in Copenhagen–who declined to give her name. “There is freedom of speech in Turkey.”
Copenhagen-based Roj TV said it had no links with the PKK–Danish public television and radio broadcaster Danmarks Radio reported today.
Rasmussen said he had “no legal basis to exclude journalists from press conferences as long as they work within the law.”
Fifty-five percent of Danes are opposed to Turkish EU-membership–according to a poll conducted on November 13. The newspaper didn’t say how many people participated in the poll or give a margin of error.