Turkey warns against 'genocide' maneuvering in US elections

Turkey warns against 'genocide' maneuvering in US elections

Barack Obama (Photo: AP)

April 23, 2012, Monday/ 16:35:00

Turkey has warned US politicians against resorting to steps such as using the word "genocide" to refer to the killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I in order to bolster efforts aimed at luring Armenian-American voters ahead of the presidential election.

The genocide debate should not be used to gain political advantage in US internal affairs, an official from the Turkish Foreign Ministry told Today's Zaman on Monday.

US President Barack Obama is in the limelight on the eve of "Armenian Remembrance Day" on April 24, when he will give his annual message remembering the events of 1915.

“As in previous years, Turkey anticipates that Obama will be objective when evaluating the Armenian genocide and to refer to the pains of both Ottoman Turks and Armenians during World War I, as the Armenians were not the only ones suffering from the conditions of war,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The diplomat reiterated the Turkish proposal to establish a joint commission of historians and experts from both Turkey and Armenia to study the evidence for the events of 1915 in the archives of Turkey and Armenia and other relevant countries around the world.

Obama has avoided using the word “genocide” in previous April 24 speeches, although as a presidential candidate he pledged to recognize the Armenian genocide once in office.

Turkish political and academic circles claimed that this year would be different due to the US presidential election in November and that Obama could use the word “genocide” in Tuesday's speech to attract the Armenian vote.

Soli Özel, a senior lecturer in international relations and political science at İstanbul's Kadir Has University, ruled out the claims, saying that Turkey and the US have forged stronger ties during the last couple of years, during a phone interview with Today's Zaman last week.

“Obama would see there is no benefit in cooling relations with Turkey, considering the strong political ties between Turkey and the US,” Özel stated.

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