ANKARA (Armenian Weekly)—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday met in Ankara with the editor of the Jamanak Turkish-Armenian newspaper, Ara Kochunyan. During the meeting, Erdogan congratulated Jamanak (established in 1908) on its 100th anniversary, praised the role the Turkish Armenian community has played in the country, and blasted “a segment” of the Armenian Diaspora for impeding relations with Armenia.
Talking about minorities in Turkey, Erdogan said, “I am sure you realize that there are problems piled up over centuries that cannot be resolved overnight. The opposition approaches every step we take with a negative attitude and makes every effort to create hurdles and slow down the process of resolving the issues. But we will continue forward without making excuses.”
Answering Kochunyan’s question about a threat the Prime Minister made earlier this year to deport Armenians from Turkey, Erdogan said that he was only referring to the Armenians illegally working in the country—and not Armenians as a whole. “My statement was extremely clear, and if there is an honest attempt to understand what exactly I meant, there should be no problems.”
Erdogan also said that he considers the Turkish Armenian community as “an important and valuable asset” for the country. “I follow with great appreciation the struggle of Turkish Armenians to protect the internal peace and to advance Turkey’s prosperity,” he added.
Speaking about Turkey’s relations with Armenia, Erdogan said, “By leaving history to the historians, we can together look to the future. I still believe this is possible. A segment of the Armenian Diaspora does not share this vision, and therefore it is a significant hurdle. I am not convinced that this particular segment of the Diaspora is doing Armenia any favors this way.” Erdogan conveniently sidestepped the fact that Turkey itself is stalling the so-called “normalization process” with Armenia, by not ratifying the Protocols.
Armenian Weekly correspondents in Turkey contributed to this report.