STRASBOURG (Combined Sources)–Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Tuesday denied the Armenian Genocide and called for the establishment of a historical commission to examine its veracity in response to questions following his speech to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Gul was asked by Armenian Deputy to PACE, Naira Zohrabyan, to comment on his country’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.
“We don’t think the word genocide is a proper term nor has there been a genocide,” Gul said. “We openly say that it’s necessary to establish a commission, open all archives and study all documents and agree with any decision of that commission.”
“Yes, there were human sufferings 100 years ago, which we feel sorry for,” he said, adding that “when we say genocide, we mean purposeful killing. There has not been anything of that kind.”
Gul went on to say that if “there is a third country that says there has been genocide, it can also participate in the activity of the commission.”
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in response to questions from Zohrabyan posed after his own speech, berated Armenia, calling it an “occupying” neighbor that has “impeded reconciliation” efforts.
Zohrabyan had asked the Turkish Foreign Minister to comment on Turkey’s failure to ratify protocols to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey. Davutoglu, in response, blamed Armenia for the impasse, claiming Yerevan caused the breakdown of what he called Turkey’s attempt to improve relations with its neighbor.
The Turkey-Armenia protocols, signed in October 2009, envisaged an unconditional normalization of relations between the two countries. But the process collapsed in 2010 when it became clear Turkey’s government-controlled parliament would not ratify the protocols without a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict favoring Azerbaijan and the establishment of a commission to examine the veracity of the Armenian Genocide.
Davutoglu, however, maintained his government was ready to “discuss openly” any issues relating to its neighbors, including Armenia, but conditioned those relations on Armenia’s compliance with Council of Europe principles.
“Armenia has occupied 20 percent of a country’s territory, which is today a member of the Council of Europe,” Davutoglu said, referring to Armenia’s support of the Nagorno-karabakh Republic.
“By occupying Azeri territory,” Davutoglu accused Armenia of “breaching the main values” of the Council of Europe. Those principles, he claimed, are being violated by Armenia and that has “impeded reconciliation” between the two countries.
Following the session, Zorabyan told Armenian Public Radio that Davutoglu’s remarks once again displayed Turkey’s ulterior motives in the protocols process. “Davutoglu clearly stated in his speech that when signing the Armenian-Turkish protocols, Turkey was pursuing two agendas: reconciliation of the two peoples and settlement of the Karabakh conflict,” she explained.