ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–Turkish President Abdullah Gul released a statement Sunday dispelling allegations by a Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy that his mother was Armenian, Today’s Zaman reported.
The statement came as CHP deputy Canan Artiman continued to lodge criticism at the president in an interview published in the Milliyet daily Sunday, saying that she would like to throw a shoe at the president when she sees him in the same way an Iraqi journalist last week hurled a shoe at visiting US President George W. Bush.
In his statement Sunday, Gul announced that his mother’s side, the Satoglu family from Kayseri, and his father’s side, the Gul family also from Kayseri, are Muslim and Turkish, according to centuries of written genealogical records.
"I respect the ethnic background, different beliefs and family ties of all my citizens and see this as a reality and also the wealth of our country with its imperial history. I also would like to emphasize that all my citizens are equal to one another regardless of any differences. No one has any superiority whatsoever over another one. Everybody has the equal and same rights under the guarantee of our Constitution," the statement read.
"I am proud of our country, which has reached this level of understanding," Gul said.
Aritman’s allegations came in response to a statement by the Turkish President Thursday commenting on an online petition initiated by a group of about 200 prominent Turkish intellectuals, academics and newspaper columnists apologizing to the Armenia’s for their suffering during the "Great Catastrophe" of 1915.
Gul, who visited Armenia in September, said “the fact that the issue is discussed freely in academic and public circles is proof of the presence of democratic discussion in Turkey."