Claim: Erdogan is an "autocrat in the making"

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Claim: Erdogan is an "autocrat in the making"

2016-01-27 07:52 GMT
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Stefan Ihrig presents three claims about Turkish government and relates them to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's alleged "autocrat" style

Huffington Post Columnist Stefan Ihrig

On 18 January 2016, an article by Stefan Ihrig was published in the Huffington Post with the title Why We Can't Afford to Abandon Turkey’s Kurds. The article had several claims about Turkey and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The first claim concerns President Erdogan’s stance on the 1915 events, also known as the Armenian Deportation, that resulted in a catastrophe while Armenians in eastern Anatolia were being deported to different destinations and that took place during the declining years of the Ottoman Empire.

The rejection of calls to recognize the Armenian Genocide during last year's 100th anniversary seemed merely like reflexes of a Turkish strongman who inserted himself not only into the republican tradition of denial but who also continually tries to connect himself back to Ottoman times,” says the author.

It is true that Turkey does not call the 1915 events a “genocide,” but the author bypasses a historic statement, which was echoed widely across the international media, that was released by the Turkish Prime Ministry in 2014 on the 99th anniversary since the events. Erdogan, who was then prime minister, said “We wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the context of the early twentieth century rest in peace, and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren.”

This was the first time in Turkey a prime minister offered condolences to Armenians in reference to the 1915 events. Its uniqueness was appreciated by many Armenians such as Rober Koptas, the editor of Agos, a newspaper in Turkey published weekly in both Armenian and Turkish. “This statement is the most positive and constructive statement that has ever come from a senior Turkish office, although it still identified people killed in a genocide as casualties of war,” said Koptas.

Democratic developments concerning Turkey’s Armenian citizens are not limited to offering condolences. The restoration of the Akdamar Church, which was idle for decades, as well as the returning of an area of 42,000 m² to an Armenian association by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality are among the achievements of the Turkish state since the ruling AKP government came to power.

The second claim is that Erdogan is waging a war against Kurds. As a matter of fact, President Erdogan is known to be the initiator of the peace process to bring an end to decades of violence in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast. However, the process was ended by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU, the US, and NATO.

The third claim is about the academics who signed a petition. “Now, in the last few days, over 1,000 Turkish academics signed an online petition to get the Turkish government to stop its undeclared war against the Kurds in the southeast and to resume the peace process,” says the author. However, he fails to acknowledge that the signatories of the petition ignored acts of terrorism committed by the PKK, and thus takes security measures taken by the state out of context. For more information, please click here.