BRUSSELS–Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul reaffirmed the denialist policies of the Turkish Government regarding the Armenian Genocide at a January 27 address before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe–reported the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (formerly ANC of Europe.)
During his speech–Mr. Gul emphasized the "progress" made by Turkey in honoring its commitmen’s toward the Council of Europe–especially in the areas of human rights and the protection of minorities. Like his predecessors–Mr. Gul repeated pledges that Turkey is committed to "a policy of zero tolerance on torture" and supports the resumption of trials currently on appeal by the European Court of Human Rights. Referring to discriminatory practices that restrict property ownership rights of non-Muslim religious communities–Mr. Gul alleged that reforms are underway and cited "the centuries-long tradition of multiculturalism and religious tolerance of the Turkish people".
Finally–Gul–noting the lifting of the state of emergency in Kurdish territories–argued that "with habeas-corpus restored to the entire country–all Turkish citizens now enjoy the same legal guarantees."
During the question and answer period–when Andreas Gross (Socialist Switzerland) expressed his wish to "be allowed to come to Turkey to examine the issues related to Kurdish autonomy," Gul denied that the Kurdish people had a distinct identity–tying identity claims with terrorism.
The next speaker Franois Rochebloine–(Democrat France) citing "the deep commitment to renewal" displayed–according to him–by the election of the new Turkish government–asked if Turkey intends now to "clarify its past–especially regarding Armenia and Armenian communities" by acknowledging "the annihilation–through genocide–of its Armenian population," Gul reiterated the denialist policies of former Turkish regimes. He argued that events took place during a time of war–and renounced the existence of any plan to annihilate the Armenian people. He went on to note that "Turkey helps Armenia," rejecting any notion that his country is responsible for poor relations with its neighbor. He concluded by stressing the need to "focus on the future and forget the past."
"Beyond the usual denialist propaganda–what is striking in Gul’s speech is his incapacity to objectively view history and to grasp how its denial has led to the current political deadlock," said executive director of the European Armenian Federation Laurent Leylekian.
"Mr. Gul’s remarks simply don’t reflect reality: Armenia’s and non-Turkish minorities in general are second class citizens in an apartheid state. Turkey’s concept of multiculturalism is based on surrender and coercion. Regarding the existence of habeas-corpus or religious tolerance that supposedly prevail in Turkey–I suggest Mr. Gul informs Mr. Yusuf Akbulut of these facts. Mr. Akbulut–an Assyrian priest–was in the past physically threatened and jailed for having mentioned the Armenian Genocide of 1915. His church was vandalized in Diyarbakir–only two weeks ago," noted Leylekian.
"The claim that ‘Turkey helps Armenia’ is patently false. Turkey continues to act as a predator and rogue state by continuing its illegal blockade of Armenia. Those who put their hopes in the new Young-Turks who pretend to be crypto-Islamists–have now understood that more than the current regime–the problem is the Turkish state itself–with its racist and bellicose doctrines," concluded Leylekian.