Istanbul (AsiaNews) - "We tolerate them " this brutal and unexpected statement by Erdogan, against the 100 thousand Armenians living and working mainly in Istanbul, is the answer to the decision taken by the U.S. and Sweden to recognize the Armenian genocide
Erdogan declared this in a Turkish-language broadcast on the BBC. He was referring to the 100 thousand Armenians living as illegal immigrants, or with the tolerance of Turkish authorities, given that relations between Armenia and Turkey are not yet fully recovered. Ankara and Yerevan signed two protocols in October 2009 for the development of their diplomatic relations, but have not yet reached the final step.
170 thousand Armenians currently live in Turkey. Of them – according to Erdogan - only 70 thousand have Turkish citizenship. "If necessary - he continued, maybe these 100 thousand will have to return home because they are not citizens of this country. I am not obliged to keep them here”.
Erdogan has also accused the Armenian Diaspora of having devised, and piloted the decisions taken by the parliaments of Sweden and the U.S. in recognizing the Armenian genocide and has urged Armenia to take a clear position against the Diaspora, which he says are restraining diplomatic relations. He has also invited the U.S., France and Russia to assist Armenia in disengaging from the influence of its Diaspora, and he concluded that these initiatives will impact on the nascent Turkish-Armenian relations.
Yerevan’s reaction has been swift. Prime Minister Tigran Sarkosian remarked that these political statements recall the events of 1915 and therefore do not help to contribute to the improvement of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Neither does Erdogan’s brutal stance aid Turkey’s to accelerate its entry into the European Union. However, perhaps he is speculating on the only outlet to the appalling crisis gripping Armenia; that of opening of its borders with Turkey, of which Yerevan is in desperate need. Erdogan also knows that Turkey is a main transit route for the West’s oil and gas energy supplies. Yesterday in Istanbul Erdogan’s controversial comments were the focus of discussions: they recall the method of cutting the Gordian knot - in short, the method of force - and increase the fear that if the historical truth is not accepted its mistakes risk being repeated.