Turkey vows to fight Armenian genocide campaign

Agence France Presse — English
April 25, 2005 Monday 5:45 PM GMT

Turkey vows to fight Armenian genocide campaign

ANKARA April 25

Turkey said on Monday it would fight mounting international pressure
to recognize as genocide the mass killings of Armenians under the
Ottoman Empire, urging public agencies and civic groups to launch an
“all-out effort” against the damaging allegations.

“It has become inevitable for all state institutions and NGOs, for
everybody to (work to) disprove those baseless allegations all over
the world,” the government spokesman, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek,
said after a cabinet meeting.

“There was no genocide. An all-out effort is needed to expose the
lies of those who say it happened,” he said.

The cabainet discussed what strategy Turkey should pursue to counter
the Armenian allegations that up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen were
killed in what was a genocide between 1915 and 1917 and decided to
set up, if necessary, a special agency to coordinate such efforts,
Cicek said.

Armenians across the world marked Sunday the 90th anniversary of the
beginning of the massacres, which have already been recognized as
genocide by a number of countries.

Ankara argues that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died
in what was civil strife during World War I when the Armenians took
up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with Russian
troops invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire.

Ankara fears that the genocide allegations could fuel anti-Turkish
sentiment in the international public opinion and cloud its image at
a time when it is vying for membership in the European Union.

Some EU politicans are pressing Turkey to address the genocide claims
in what Ankara sees as politically-motivated campaign to impede its
EU membership bid.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter
to Armenian President Robert Kocharian, calling for the creation of a
joint commission of historians to study the genocide allegations as a
first step towards normalizing ties between the two estranged
neighbors.

Ankara has not yet received a formal response to the proposal, Cicek
said.

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