Turkey PM’s Armenian Advisor Resigns Ahead Of Centenary


Gulf News, UAE
April 16 2015

He faced criticism by some in the government for reiterating his view
that First World War killings amounted to genocide

Istanbul: Etyen Mahcupyan, a well-known ethnic Armenian writer, has
retired as chief adviser to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as Turkey
prepares for the 100th anniversary of the massacre of Armenians by
Ottoman Turkish forces.

The centenary has stirred controversy in Turkey, with President
Tayyip Erdogan rebuffing statements from Pope Francis and the European
Parliament this week that the First World War killings of up to 1.5
million Armenians amounted to genocide.

Mahcupyan, whose appointment last October drew praise as a sign of
Turkey’s commitment to minority rights, said his departure had nothing
to do with the row. He said he retired in March after turning 65,
the mandatory retirement age for civil servants, and still advises
Davutoglu informally.

But the announcement of his departure, which was confirmed by the
prime minister’s office on Thursday, came as he faced criticism
by some in the government for reiterating his long-held view that
the 1915 killings amounted to genocide. It was not clear why the
announcement took more than a month.

“Mr Mahcupyan is no longer the chief adviser of our prime minister.

His duties have ceased due to his retirement,” a source in Davutoglu’s
office said.

“He was a figure whom our prime minister has consulted with and valued
prior to him becoming an adviser, and this relationship will continue.

But he no longer holds the official title of chief adviser.”

Earlier on Thursday, Turkey’s EU affairs minister, Volkan Bozkir,
said Mahcupyan’s view that a genocide took place 100 years ago was
unsuitable for a prime minister’s adviser.

“I consider his statement a personal one, made as a Turkish citizen.

Of course, this perspective does not become a Turkish citizen either.

Perhaps he will have a chance to reconsider his assessment,” Bozkir
said in an interview with CNN Turk.

Muslim Turkey agrees that Christian Armenians were killed in clashes
with Ottoman forces that began on April 24, 1915, when large numbers
of Armenians lived in the empire ruled by Istanbul, but denies that
this amounted to genocide.

Armenia, most Western scholars and several foreign legislatures refer
to the mass killings as genocide.

On Sunday, Pope Francis triggered a diplomatic row with Ankara by
calling the killings “the first genocide of the 20th century”. His
remarks prompted Turkey to summon the Vatican’s ambassador and to
recall its own.

From: A. Papazian


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