The new Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that the Armenian genocide was nothing more than an ordinary event that might take place during the time of war. In 1915, during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish allegedly killed 1.5 million Armenians.
By Laurens Bammens
Binali Yıldırım has only been prime minister for just over a week and he is already making controversial statements. The German parliament voted today that the Armenian killings was indeed a genocide. Yildirim was asked what he thought about the vote on his first official visit to Turkish Cyprus.
This is where Yildirim shocked the world. He called the German vote ‘nonsense’ and added the following: ‘[The Armenian killings] was an ordinary event that might have taken place under war circumstances in 1915 and it has no rhyme or reason. Those who try to impute this event to Turkey have no good intentions.’
Turkey vs the world
German politicians have been very nervous towards the vote. It was supposed to take place one year ago, at the 100-year memorial of the genocide. Yet people within the party of German Chancellor Merkel postponed it, because they were afraid it might hurt Turkish-German relations. The timing certainly could not have been worse since the countries need each other to solve the refugee crisis.
According to German public broadcaster ARD, German members of parliament have been threatened in e-mails. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked to Merkel on the phone saying that her ties would suffer ‘if Germany falls into such a game’ according to the BBC.
Already many organisations and countries recognise the conflict as genocide: European Union, the Pope, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Chancellor Merkel was not in the parliament for the vote, but her party of Christian Democrats (CDU) voted in favour. As well as the coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens.
Germany has always been good in giving recognition for their mistakes in the past. Certainly for the events in the first and second World War. Denying the holocaust is illegal and is punishable. The resolution that will be voted today even says that Germany played a role in the Armenian conflict, since they were an ally of the Ottoman Empire at the time and did not do anything to stop it.
Turkey recognises that a lot of Armenians died in 1915, but not as many as 1.5 million. Instead, the Turkish government says the death toll is 500,000 which does not count as a genocide. They quickly add that also a lot of Turks were killed by Armenian gangs. Yet the term genocide has been coined by historians, officials and politicians.
Desire to be ruled by Turkey
It was not the only controversial statement by a Turkish official that day. An advisor for Turkish President Erdogan, Yigit Bulut, said on television on Wednesday evening that foreign nations desire to be ruled by Turkey.
Bulut added: ‘The Balkans are turning to Turkey. The Balkans are turning to the centre of this geography.’ He said that foreign nations are talking about how they can be ruled from Istanbul. ‘They’ being countries from the Middle-East, but also Africa and Central Asia. He argued that European countries felt the same way, but are being held back by the German government.