ANKARA—In a live interview with the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the Armenian diaspora is pushing for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but that “[the] issue needs to be handled by the historians,” Today’s Zaman reported.
“We are saying, ‘If you are sincere on this matter, then come, let’s leave this to historians, let historians study the issue, let’s open our archives,’” Erdogan said
“If the results reveal that we have committed a crime, if we have a price to pay, then as Turkey we would assess it and take the required steps.”
Erdogan said the Armenian diaspora is trying to exploit the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and “drag Turkey into a fight.”
The Turkish President said Armenians have a strong lobby around the world and it is a fact that Turkey’s efforts against them are somewhat weak, according to Today’s Zaman.
Armenian leaders have stated in the past that there is no debate over the veracity of the Armenian Genocide, accusing Turkish proposals for a “panel of historians” of being a ploy to create a debate where there is none; a debate which Turkey-backed historians will be free to derail and stall, giving Turkey another excuse to avoid recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
In another part of the interview, when asked about the latest “Freedom in the World 2015” report of US-based watchdog Freedom House and its heavy criticism of Turkey with regards to increasing interference in the media and judiciary, Erdogan claimed that “no one really takes Freedom House seriously.”
Erdogan refuted Freedom House’s findings and said: “Freedom House doesn’t have any dignity. Zero dignity. They think they are so valuable. There may be others behind organizations like Freedom House. We need to know these facts.”
In other remarks, Erdogan once again criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending a march in Paris after the attack against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier this month. Leaders around the world marched arm-in-arm for the victims of the Paris attacks in a show of solidarity. Erdogan said he did not understand how Netanyahu dared to attend the march, considering “Israel’s increasingly aggressive behavior,” especially with regards to the “violation of holy sites in Jerusalem.” Erdogan himself has been criticized by the international community for censoring Charlie Hebdo cartoons just days after that same march in Paris.
Erdogan went on to say that Netanyahu’s acts against Palestinians are “state terror” and that Israelis “like to shed blood” and find peace in “sucking blood.”