UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM ERDOGAN
ISTANBUL (AA) – The Armenian issue is being used to blackmail Turkey around the world, Turkish president has said.
Addressing a press conference in Istanbul Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said western countries were just using the Armenian issue as a tool to malign Turkey.
"I know in my heart that the main point is not Armenians. They are just being manipulated. The Armenian issue is just blackmail against Turkey around the world," Erdogan said.
"I want to let the world know: like it or not, we will never accept the 'genocide' accusation," he added.
On Thursday, the lower house of the German parliament approved a non-binding resolution recognizing Armenian claims of “genocide” during the 1915 events.
The resolution accused the Ottoman government of 1915 of allegedly carrying out “systematic genocide” against Armenians, as well as other Christian minorities.
He invited German politicians to jointly open the archives to settle the question about Armenian killings during 1915. "If available, you can also open your archives. Come and let us make a decision."
But, he said, the German politicians would not dare do such a thing "because when you attempt something like this, you know you are going to be disgraced."
According to the Turkish president, Turkey had nothing to be ashamed of in its history.
"I emphasize one more time. We have nothing in our past to be ashamed of, but those countries that often accuse Turkey of 'Armenian genocide' have the blood of millions of innocent victims."
Erdogan said Germany should be the last country to speak about the so called 'Armenian genocide'. "They [Germans] should firstly define the meaning of Holocaust again. They should review the Namibia Holocaust," he said.
The Namibia Holocaust is considered one of the first genocides of the last century, which was carried out against the Heroro and Nama peoples in southwest Africa by the then German empire.
He called on Germany and Europe to be fair in resolving all issues with Turkey.
"Either we will fairly resolve issues at our agenda or Turkey will get out of being a barrier in front of Europe's challenges and we will leave you on your own with your ordeals," he said.
"What we want is that Turkey be fairly treated, not be applied double standards and rules, which are valid for everyone, be valid for us as well," Erdogan said.
He clarified that Turkey did not have any enmity with Europe.
"In fact, we do not have any problem with EU and European countries. It is not possible to feel an enmity for a geography where about our five million brothers of Turkish origins or citizens live.
"Just as we are a part of Europe geographically, we also see Europe as a part of us," Erdogan said.
Later, in his address at a different event in Istanbul’s Medipol University, the president also strongly criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel over what he called her “inaction” following the German parliament’s resolution.
He said he spoke with Merkel ahead of the vote, who told him that she would do her best. "Is the best thing you could do was not participating in the vote at the parliament? If you were fair, you would have attended it and been the lady who said [voted] no…then I would have applauded you," he said.
He added that Merkel’s own party group in the German parliament had not been fair or sincere.
Merkel, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and senior ministers did not attend Thursday’s vote. Only one lawmaker from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc, Bettina Kudla, had voted against the motion, while another lawmaker from Merkel’s party, Oliver Wittke, abstained.
The controversial resolution was submitted by the parliamentary groups of the ruling Christian Democrats, its coalition partner Social Democrats, and the opposition, Green Party. The Left party also backed the resolution.
Turkey denies the alleged Armenian “genocide”, but acknowledges that there were casualties on both sides during the events taking place in World War I.
According to Turkey's viewpoint, deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 occurred after some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.