TURKISH PM CONGRATULATES OBAMA, STRESSES ARMENIAN ISSUE
Agence France Presse
November 5, 2008 Wednesday 11:38 AM GMT
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday congratulated US
president-elect Barack Obama, stressing Turkey’s expectations that
America’s policy of not recognising the Ottoman massacres of Armenians
as genocide would continue.
"We hope that some theses raised during the election campaign will stay
there (in the past) as campaign issues," Erdogan told reporters here.
His remarks were a reference to an election pledge Obama made to
his Armenian-American supporters to recognise the mass killings of
Armenians during World War I as genocide if elected president.
Washington traditionally condemns the killings on their anniversary
each year, but has so far refrained from dubbing them a "genocide",
wary not to strain relations with Turkey, a NATO member and a key
ally in the Middle East.
Both outgoing president George W. Bush and his predecessor Bill
Clinton have used their clout over the US Congress to stop bills
aimed at recognising the massacres as genocide.
"The relations between Turkey and America are determined not by
changing (US) administrations but by the strategic nature of our ties,
which we believe will continue," Erdogan said.
He also stressed that Obama has now shouldered the "burden" of tackling
the global financial crisis.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their people were systematically
killed by Ottoman Turks in an act of genocide between 1915 and 1917
as their empire fell apart — a claim supported by several other
Turkey rejects the genocide label, arguing that 300,000-500,000
Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when
Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided
with invading Russian troops.