Erdogan: Turks have suffered far more than Armenians over the past century

Erdogan: Turks have suffered far more than Armenians over the past century

Erdogan Decries Armenian Genocide Recognition Drive

Azatutyun – Turks have suffered far more than Armenians over the past century, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed on Thursday, angrily denouncing long-running efforts at greater international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

In a speech in Istanbul reported by “Today’s Zaman” daily, Erdogan challenged Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora to come up with more documentary evidence of the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians. He charged that their efforts to have more countries recognize the mass killings as genocide are aimed at discrediting Turkey, rather than uncovering the truth.

“If we examine what our nation had to go through over the past 100-150 years, we would find far more [suffering] than the Armenians allegedly went through,” he said, according to “Today’s Zaman.”

Erdogan claimed that Ankara has “over a million documents” showing that the Ottoman Empire never sought to exterminate the Armenian population of the crumbling empire during the First World War. “How many documents do you have?” he asked the Armenians. “Bring your documents, and we will task the historians, political scientists, even archeologists and lawyers [with studying them.]”

Armenian officials and scholars have repeatedly dismissed Erdogan’s assurances that the Turkish state archives relating to the Ottoman period are open to foreign researchers. Some of them have suggested that important documents shedding light on the events of 1915 have long been destroyed by Ankara.

More importantly, the Armenian side insists that there is sufficient evidence to assert that the mass killings and deportations ordered by the Ottoman regime of “the Young Turks” constituted genocide. This position is backed by many Western historians specializing in research of crimes against humanity.

“The historical record on the Armenian Genocide is unambiguous and documented by overwhelming evidence,” the U.S.-based International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) said in a 2007 letter to members of the U.S. Congress. “It is proven by foreign office records of the United States, France, Great Britain, Russia, and perhaps most importantly, of Turkey’s World War I allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary, as well as by the records of the Ottoman Courts-Martial of 1918-1920, and by decades of scholarship.”

“We urge you to reject the Turkish campaign of denial, as you may be meeting with groups and individuals who are ardent deniers,” read the letter. “We would underscore that the Armenian Genocide is not controversial, but rather is denied only by the Turkish government and its apologists.”

Incidentally, the IAGS is scheduled to hold the next annual meeting of its members in Yerevan in July.

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