By Dr Yiorghos Leventis
“Today Turkey is – and this is not just a political, formal assessment, it is also my very private personal feeling also after our today visit – today Turkey is the best example for the whole world how we should treat refugees. No one has the right to lecture Turkey what we should to do.”
We shall not engage with the English syntax and grammar mistakes (of which there are plenty) that Donald Tusk, president of the European Council committed in the above statement in Turkey. However, we ought to address the substance of his words, uttered a day before the date (April 24) the whole world set – not least the European Union of which Tusk is the prime speaker – to commemorate the Armenian genocide of 1915 which Ankara has never recognised. If anything, the Turkish government criminalised reference to this atrocious war crime, which it conveniently terms as ‘forced population movements’.
It is very ironic that the president of the European Council chose this particular day to pay a visit and praise Turkey unequivocally for its ‘best record in treating refugees’. Let us remind Mr Tusk that the European parliament a year earlier on the anniversary of the centennial of the Armenian genocide noted in its relevant resolution inter alia the following:
2015 marks the centennial of the Armenian genocide perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire;
An increasing number of member states and national parliaments recognise the Armenian genocide perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire;
One of the main motivations for the European unification movement is the will to prevent the recurrence of wars and crimes against humanity in Europe;
Turkey and Armenia have embarked on a process of diplomatic normalisation, signing protocols in 2009 in Zurich on establishing and developing relations;
The importance of keeping alive the memories of the past is paramount, since there can be no reconciliation without truth and remembrance;
“The EP pays tribute, on the eve of the centenary, to the memory of the one-and-a-half million innocent Armenian victims who perished in the Ottoman Empire; joins the commemoration of the centenary of the Armenian genocide in a spirit of European solidarity and justice; calls on the commission and the council to join in the commemoration”
Ankara has not as yet normalised diplomatic relations with Armenia neither has it recognised the genocide, despite the importance of doing so being clearly marked by the most democratic of institutions of the European Union.
To the contrary, Turkey has dedicated the time that lapsed since the signing of the Zurich protocol of 2009 not in promoting good neighbourly relations but in destabilising its neighbours Syria and Iraq, which she invaded several times. Both Damascus and Baghdad denounced Turkish actions multiple times referring Ankara’s interventionist policy and creeping invasion to the UN Security Council.
Moreover, Tusk’s statement is an affront to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian victims as well as the tens of thousands of Turkish and Syrian Kurdish victims that the five year old Turkish meddling and expansionism has created in the region. The Turkish armed forces pound inhabited areas in the southeast nonstop, killing innocent Kurds, citizens of the country. Turkey’s Kurds cry out every single day: “This is genocide”.
The EU should not support Turkey’s creeping invasion in Syrian and Iraq, neither to condone the genocidal war within Turkey against its own Kurdish population. One should ask the real question: What did the EU do for promoting the peace process in Syria?
>Dr Yiorghos Leventis is director of the International Security Forum, www.inter-security-forum.org