ANKARA — Etyen Mahçupyan, an adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who has recently been in the news for his remarks about the Armenian Genocide has retired more than a month ago and is no longer serving in the position, news reports said on Thursday.
Mahçupyan the first member of Turkey’s Armenian community to be a senior adviser to the prime minister — told Reuters on April 16 that he was officially retired in March when he turned 65, but still informally advises Davutoglu.
Mahcupyan said his recent comments that the Ottoman-era killing of Armenians qualified as a “genocide” has nothing to do with his job status.
Mahçupyan, who was appointed as an adviser to Davutoglu last October, caused outrage within Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party when he said earlier this week: “If accepting that what happened in Bosnia[-Herzegovina] and Africa were genocides, it is impossible not to call what happened to Armenians in 1915 genocide, too.”
He also defended Pope Francis’ characterization of the 1915 events as “the first genocide of the 20th century,” saying the Vatican has finally dispensed with a “100-year psychological burden.”
“Mr. Mahçupyan is no longer the chief adviser of our prime minister. His duties have ceased due to his retirement,” a source in Davutoglu’s office was quoted as saying by Reuters. “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,” the source said.
It was not clear why the announcement of the retirement took a month and why Mahçupyan continued to use his title as prime ministerial adviser after March 9.
Earlier on Thursday, Turkey’s European Union Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir criticized Mahçupyan for his remarks, saying it 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,” Bozkir said in an interview with CNN Türk.