Prime Minister Erdoğan reiterates ‘no genocide’ in Darfur

Prime Minister Erdoğan reiterates ‘no genocide’ in Darfur

Omar Hassan al-Bashir

November 09, 2009, Monday/ 16:25:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
While the eyes of the international community are the message Turkey will deliver to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur and scheduled to arrive today in İstanbul for a meeting of Muslim countries, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated his view on the Darfur issue, saying there was no genocide there.Bashir, who in March became the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC at The Hague, is among heads of state and government that İstanbul will host for an economic summit during the 25th session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

In March 2006, Erdoğan visited Darfur. “I do not believe that there has been assimilation or genocide in Darfur. In any case, verses of the Quran reject tribalism and clans,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying when asked his opinion on Darfur. Erdoğan, speaking on Sunday in an interview broadcast by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), noted that Bashir was an invitee of COMCEC, thus no bilateral invitation was extended by Turkey, reiterating earlier statements by Turkish leaders and officials.

“Gaza and Darfur should not be confused with each other. Fifteen-hundred people were killed in Gaza. If there was something like this in Darfur, we would follow that to the end as well,” Erdoğan said, in response to those criticizing him for not showing Darfur the same kind of sensitivity he has shown vis-à-vis Israel’s Gaza offensive.

 “I can’t comfortably talk about this [Gaza] with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, but I can comfortably talk with Omar Bashir and tell him to his face that ‘what you’re doing is wrong.’ A Muslim cannot commit genocide. If there is such a thing, it’s impossible not to identify it. We can comfortably talk about that as well. We say: ‘You cannot do such thing. You don’t have the right’,” Erdoğan was quoted by NTV as saying in his TRT interview

“Turkey at least has the confidence. I also conveyed my comfort on this issue to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. I told him that we are ready if there is any duty that falls us,” Erdoğan added.

On Thursday, Turkey received a request from the European Union to reconsider its decision to invite Bashir. On Friday, refraining from criticizing NATO ally Turkey for its willingness to allow Bashir to attend the OIC summit in İstanbul, Washington underlined the importance it attaches to messages to be given to Bashir by the Turkish leadership during the former’s visit.

“I would just say it’s not for us to decide who should attend an OIC meeting in Turkey. What we do hope is to the extent that there are opportunities for discussions with Bashir in Turkey, that Turkey’s message to the Sudanese government is consistent with ours and with our European friends,” Philip Gordon, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, said in response to a question during a Foreign Press Center briefing at the US State Department.

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