Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly revealed that he was branded as an Armenian by some of his detractors and considers that a grave insult.
Erdogan made the comments late on Tuesday as he defended himself against allegations that he is exploiting the presumed ethnic and religious affiliation of his challengers in Turkey’s ongoing presidential election campaign.
“They have also said a lot of things about me,” he said, according to Hurriyet Daily News. “One of them came and said I was a Georgian. Then another came up and, I beg your pardon, called me uglier things, saying I was Armenian.”
“What I have learned from my grandfather, my father and all of them is that I am Turkish. That’s it,” added the controversial Turkish premier widely expected to win Sunday’s ballot.
Turkey’s outgoing President Abdullah Gul similarly took offense in 2009 when an opposition lawmaker, Canan Aritman, claimed that he does not denounce Turkish intellectuals apologizing for the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire because his mother was an ethnic Armenian. Gul strongly denied having Armenian origin and sued Aritman for defamation of character. A Turkish court ruled out against the oppositionist.