Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly said that Turkey should avoid “bellicose rhetoric” and rely instead on historical facts in disputes with countries recognizing the 1915 mass killings and deportations of Armenians as genocide.
“Momentary reactions and temporary solutions will not yield results,” the “Hurriyet Daily News” newspaper quoted him as saying on Tuesday. “Instead of using a populist, bellicose rhetoric and displaying momentary reactions over the 1915 incidents, which some countries want to turn into a campaign against Turkey, we must make use of the guidance of history and science.”
“In the face of illegal, racist, separatist and malevolent campaigns we will only respond with documents, information, archives and the language and method of science. As we can see from recent events, the gap left by science is filled by populist politicians and racists exploiters,” Erdogan said in a speech at the Turkish Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey.
The outspoken premier clearly referred to the fallout from a French bill making it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide. The Turkish government condemned its passage by the lower house of France’s parliament last week, downgrading political and military ties with Paris and threatening other sanctions.
Erdogan’s reaction to the development was particularly furious. He denounced the French vote as a manifestation of “racism, discrimination and Islamophobia.”
Erdogan also charged that France itself committed genocide in Algeria and that French President Sarkozy’s father Pal played a part in it. The latter called the allegation “completely ridiculous.”
According to “Hurriyet Daily News,” Erdogan on Tuesday urged Turkish scholars to step up historical research with the aim of disproving Western historians’ dominant view that more than one million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were massacred in the first genocide of the 20th century.
“We will take into consideration books, archives and scientific research, not parliamentary votes,” the Turkish prime minister said. “The counter-theses that we will share with the world will be based on solid foundations. Therefore, I’m especially asking researchers and universities to please focus your studies on our recent history.”
Successive Turkish governments have for decades claimed that Armenians died in much smaller numbers and because of civil strife, rather than a premeditated Ottoman government effort to annihilate a key Christian minority.