Cansu Çamlıbel – YEREVAN – Hürriyet
Staging a landmark visit to Yerevan, FM Davutoğlu declares the Ottoman deportation of Armenians in 1915 to have been ‘wrong’ and ‘inhumane’
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) and Edward Nalbandian (L), after Davutoglu arrived in Yerevan for regional talks following years of icy relations. AFP photo
The “deportation” of Armenians in 1915 was inhumane, and Turkey has never supported the move, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said yesterday as he made a landmark visit to the country’s long-time foe, Armenia.
Accompanied by Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, Davutoğlu visited Yerevan for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) group meeting. The top diplomat met with his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, on the sidelines of the summit.
“We are very pleased with the meeting with Nalbandian; it was candid. The primary aim is to build an environment of dialogue on a strong basis,” Davutoğlu said after the meeting, while dismissing claims that he suggested to Armenia that it withdraw from two regions in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Davutoğlu expressed his hope that a collective consciousness between the two countries could be created with a “just memory.”
“We say ‘just memory.’ What I mean with that is we should know the facts. Then we see that Turkish-Armenian relations do not date back like German-Jewish ties. In every street, there is a common sign. After you discover this, then you see the deportation, which I see as a totally wrong practice done by [the Ottoman-era rulers under the Committee of Union and Progress]. It was inhumane,” Davutoğlu told a group of reporters en route to Yerevan.
Yerevan wants Ankara to recognize the mass killings of Armenians during the forced deportation in World War I as genocide, but Turkey has steadfastly refused to do so.
“But when you write a history taking the deportation into account, then a collective conscious was created from this side [Turkey] that Armenians betrayed their nation and deserved the deportation. We should destroy these two collective consciousnesses. We abolished this wrong consciousness in 2005, but Armenians still have it,” he told reporters.
Primary aim not to open border
“Our primary aim is not open only the Turkish-Armenian border but to form a foundation that will pave the way for a comprehensive peace,” Davutoğlu said. “It has three pillars. The first one is relations between Turkey and Armenia. The second one is Azerbaijani-Armenian relations. This also includes Georgian-Abkhaz ties. The third one is relations between Turks and Armenians,” he said.
Turkey and Armenia signed protocols in 2009 to establish diplomatic relations and open their sealed borders, but neither succeeded in completing the process for different reasons.
“If one of the pillars is crippled, it will create distress. Let’s say we opened the Armenian border gate. If a war breaks out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, then we would be forced to close it again. The hardest thing is to defrost the iceberg of the status quo. You could start a war when you trying to defrost it,” he said.
The foreign minister said they were holding talks with the Armenian diaspora but were not publicizing the matter. “In the past, talking with the diaspora has been perceived as a threat or aimed for intelligence issues. Diplomats thought, ‘What would I do?’ if it were recorded. But now it has become a duty. Since that time, whenever I go abroad I meet with the Armenian community if there is one. We don’t publicly announce the people we meet due to the fact that extremist Armenians would cause problems,” he said. “What we realize is that if you cannot provide a basis in ties with the diaspora, that puts pressure on ties with Armenia and it becomes deadlocked.”