ANKARA (RFE/RL)–Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday claimed that Armenians in the Ottoman Empire never faced genocide and, on the contrary, themselves plotted to exterminate Turks.
Erdogan was reported to angrily deny the historical record of Genocide as he marked the 95th anniversary of a rare Turkish military victory during World War One.
“In 1915 and before that, it was the Armenian side that pursued a policy aimed at exterminating our people which led to hunger, misery and death,” he said in a speech delivered in the city of Canakkale. “Forgetting all that is unfair and heartless. Our warriors always respected ancestral laws and did not kill innocent people even on the battlefield.”
“I should underline that this country’s soldier is bigger than history and that this country’s history is as clean and clear as the sun. No country’s parliament can tarnish it,” Erdogan said, in a clear reference to U.S. and Swedish lawmakers’ latest resolutions recognizing the annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.
“There is no genocide in our civilization. Our civilization is the civilization of love, tolerance and brotherhood,” he added, according to “Today’s Zaman” daily.
Erdogan followed a similar line of reasoning last November when he stated that the universally condemned massacres of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Darfur, Sudan were not a genocide. “Muslims don’t commit genocide,” he said.
The Turkish premier did use the word “genocide,” however, when he condemned the deaths of several dozen Turkic-speaking and Muslim Uighurs during unrest in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region last July. “The killings of Uighur Turks by the Chinese police during demonstrations constitute genocide,” he said at the time. “I use this term intentionally.”