ANKARA—A leading Turkish opposition figure has claimed that the government is preparing to offer some land to Armenians as the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide approaches, Today’s Zaman reports.
“I know the AKP [ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party] has an ongoing project [on the issue]. A professor has been advising and working on the transfer of land to Armenians who will be brought to Turkey,” Oktay Vural, deputy chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), told Today’s Zaman.
Noting that the Armenian diaspora has legal claims on lands, and citing recent law suits over lands at the former presidential residence in Ankara and some land in Istanbul’s Yeşilköy district, Vural demanded to know if it was a coincidence that the government earlier said the Istanbul Atatürk Airport in the city’s Yeşilköy district would be removed.
The former presidential residence, known as Çankaya presidential palace, was in service until President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected president in August last year.
Erdoğan lives instead in a recently built presidential palace, while the former presidential residence will be, as Erdoğan said, allocated to the Prime Ministry.
Vural said: “Will [Istanbul] Atatürk Airport and Çankaya presidential palace be given to meet the demands of the Armenian diaspora? Is it a coincidence that they are being evacuated at this particular juncture?”
A large majority of historians and scholars, as well as more than 20 countries and 41 states in the US, have recognized the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the one hundredth anniversary of which is this year.
But according to Vural, the issue should still be left for historians to discuss, saying that the issue should be kept outside the realm of politics and that Armenian demands “should not be legitimized.”
“Such an attitude would render Turks into being slaves on their own land,” Vural maintained.
“Are we going to retry history by legitimizing the demands of those who ask for Çankaya presidential palace and the Atatürk airport in Yeşilköy? What will the AK Party say if some others demand to have Istanbul back saying it used to be called Constantinople?” Vural said.
He added: “Those who seek to bring old issues under the spotlight should know that history cannot be undone by a political trial.”
Noting that some Turkish foundations used to have properties in Cyprus, which used to be part of the Ottoman Empire, Vural demanded to know if the government would make a claim on those properties together with those in the same category in Palestine, ironically ignoring the fact that the Republic of Turkey, in fact, currently occupies about half of Cyprus.