Patriarch recognises Armenian genocide, Turkish president threatens expulsions

Patriarch recognises Armenian genocide, Turkish president threatens expulsions

By staff writers
18 Mar 2010

The Russian Orthodox leader, Patriarch Kirill, has honoured the victims of the Armenian genocide, the first of its kind among the terrors of the the 20th century.

As part of a visit to Yerevan, Kirill laid wreaths at Yerevan's Armenian Genocide Monument, dedicated to the many hundreds of thousands of Armenians who died in World War One-era mass killings by Turkish forces.

Kirill and Catholicos Garegin II, the supreme leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, were greeted by hundreds of believers and led a joint prayer service at the Armenian church's main cathedral in Echmiadzin, near Yerevan, on 16 March 2010.

However, after politicians in the US and Sweden recently recognised the deaths of up to 1.5 million in 1915 as an Armenian genocide, Turkey's Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, responded by threatening to expel about 100,000 unregistered Armenians living in Turkey.

The move is being seen as an attempt to stem further recognition of the genocide. Cengiz Candar, a columnist for Radikal newspaper and Hurriyet Online in Istanbul, describes the statement as "careless" and aimed at placating hard-line nationalists.

Critics add that if Turkey were to start to carry out this threat, it would cause an international incident and would threaten the political ground the country has made in terms of EU accession and beneficial relations with the international community.

Erdogan's statement has also gone down badly with many moderate supporters of the policies of the current Turkish government.

Turkey officially denies that the deaths which took place during the expulsion of Christian Armenians by the forces of the collapsing Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I were genocidal. Most historians disagree, and those seeking to acknowledge the crime say that truthfulness about history is essential if a just peace is to be secured in the future and the culture of immunity around those who engage in mass systematic slaughter is to be ended

Prime Minister Erdogan is now unlikely to attend an energy summit hosted by Barack Obama in April 2010, according to Hurriyet newspaper.

He has already pulled out of a top-level meeting in Sweden and Turkey has withdrawn its ambassadors from both Washington DC and Stockholm after two recent votes earlier this month on recognising the genocide, taken by a US congressional committee and by the Swedish parliament.

Turkey is angry about the diplomatic successes of the Armenian diaspora in seeking to secure recognition of the historical truth of the genocide.

In a recent interview statement, Tayyip Erdogan declared: "Any country which cares for Armenia, namely the US, France and Russia, should primarily help Armenia to free itself from the influence of the diaspora."

The official annual anniversary of the Armenian genocide is 24 April.

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Also on Ekklesia:

'Genocide: the Armenian saga continues', by Harry Hagopian - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/11526

More about the Armenian Genocide - http://ekklesia.co.uk/tags/3873

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