Çiçek, who was speaking at a symposium to commemorate the 150th year of the death of Ottoman Sultan Abülmecid, said, “Nobody should try to emphasize erroneous points and exploit this issue.”
The commemorative event was held at Dolmabahçe Palace. Çiçek, who made the opening speech at the event, noted that the Turkish Republic was in its 88th year. He said Turkey emerged out of a will to found a brand new state on Ottoman territory, an area that disintegrated over a historical process. “We shouldn’t open to discussion issues that have been accepted. We can’t get anywhere by placing the Ottoman Empire and the republic as opposing entities,” he said.
Referring to speculation that the government was secretly marking the day when the last Ottoman Sultan Vahdettin fled Turkey, as this date, Nov. 17, coincides with the death of Abdülmecid, he said: “Articles are being written in association with an incident that happened on Nov. 17. We have a rich history. There could be events that made us happy and things that made us very sad on the same day. Should we not be happy about some things because of the things that made us sad? Then what is history good for. If we are not going to use our past experiences to learn, then who will?”
He said in the past 1,000 years, Turks have had periods of glory as well as other periods when they were the target of slander and accusations. “We are still currently suffering from these accusations, not only in our country, but globally. This is why we adopted a resolution in Parliament in 2005, particularly about the 1915 incidents,” Çiçek said, referring to the mass deportation of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire’s eastern territories, which Armenia today claims amounted to genocide, although Turkey rejects these allegations. “We said we are ready to confront our history. Anyone who has something to say can come and do so, we will open our archives and put forth the documents. We believe that evaluating controversial periods in the light of research carried out by historians is the right way,” he added.
“We are ready to confront our history, defend what we know is right and build a future learning from our inadequacies, if there are any. I see great benefit in holding such meetings. Instead of drawing conclusions based on inadequate information or polarizing people, we can build a future by discussing the issues put forth by our scientists,” he continued on to say.