Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen

Embassy Announcement

Press Statement , 15.04.2015

Please find in the following the Press Statement of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen regarding the tragic events of 1915. It would be highly appreciated if you could kindly publish the full statement.

 PRESS STATEMENT

 2015 marks the centenary of a war time which witnessed the suffering of millions of peoples from different nationalities, including millions of Ottoman Muslims and Armenian citizens of the Ottoman State. All of us, Turks, Armenians and many others paid a high death toll. Despite the hundred years after the World War I, the tragic consequences of the War still remain to be relevant today as a matter of historical controversy between Turks and Armenians, who used to live together in peace for centuries.

Contrary to what is reflected in media and by the Armenian side, this controversy continues as there is no political, scholarly or legal consensus to define the events of 1915 as "genocide”. The use of the legal term “genocide” is in fact factually problematic, morally unsound and legally unfounded. “Genocide” is not a generic word to be used for any atrocity. It is a legal term precisely defined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention of Genocide.  Up to date there has not been a legitimate, scholarly debate as regards the event of 1915, let alone a legal judgment made by a competent court which describes them as “genocide”,  whereas such international court decisions exist for the Holocaust or for Rwanda or for Srebrenica genocides.

Turkey has attempted to solve this controversy through her call for the establishment of a
joint commission consisting of historians and other experts to study the events of 1915 - not only in the archives of Turkey, Armenia, but also in the archives of all relevant third countries, and to share the findings with the international public. This was officially proposed to the Armenian side by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2005. This call, still remains valid.

Turkey has a constructive approach, and hopes to solve this issue with Armenia through dialogue. However, political campaigns based on selective memory does not help overcoming historical and political disagreements.  Erecting a 9 metre statute in the heart of Copenhagen is yet another attempt to influence the public opinion on the basis of a single and hostile narrative against Turks and Turkey. Such activity which has a connotation to a political claim could not be simply taken as an artistic matter. A project depicting a single narrative and manifesting this in a form of a sculpture, only serves to politicizing history and does not help to the reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Armenia. The Municipality, knowingly or not, would be, in public eyes, supporting one of the sides of a historical controversy by allowing such big event which serves only to create an unfair image in the public minds. The call for the Turkish side to organize counter activities every time the Armenian side likes to go on stage instead of sitting at the table, is not a mature and peaceful way of approaching this matter. Instead of political campaigns deriving hostility, Turkey hopes to rebuild historical friendship through dialogue and peaceful means.

It is not up to politicians or bureaucrats to decide about such a disputed historical matter. In this respect, Turkey appreciates Danish attitude that leaves this matter to historians. We would expect from Danish institutions to preserve their impartial position on a matter about which there is no consensus between two non-Danish peoples.

No one disputes the suffering of Armenians in this tragic episode of history. Turkey shares the pain of all those who have suffered immensely during the First World War including the Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire. We honour the memory of those who have lost their lives and wish our condolences to their descendants. This is indeed what was underscored in the message of President Tayyip Erdoğan which he delivered on April 23, 2014.

The Embassy has been witnessing with disappointment that our views have not been reflected in the Danish media. The coverage of this matter has largely been based on the claims of one side only. Such partial approach does not correspond to objective journalism. For the sake of creating news stories, this Embassy cannot be expected to be pulled to making statements deriving from hostility. We call on the politicians and those who made so-called “administrative” decisions on such an issue to be conscious of their responsibility before history and different peoples. We also expect the media to present the Danish public with all sides of the story.

We strongly hope and urge our Danish friends to support the language of dialogue and empathy instead of a slogan which is based on a one-sided narrative.

Turkey will continue to call for peace and harmony, aspire for building a common future while paying respect to history.