ISTANBUL — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Germany’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide during World War I by the Ottoman Empire “blackmail” during a televised speech Saturday, Agence France-Presse reported.
In his most bitter reaction yet to the vote by the German parliament, Erdogan threatened to leave Europe “to its own worries” if such disputes were not resolved.
“The issue here is not the Armenians…. The Armenian issue is used all over the world as a convenient blackmail against Turkey and has even started to be used as a stick,” he said in the televised speech.
“I am addressing the whole world. You may like it, you may not. Our attitude on the Armenian issue is clear from the beginning. We will never accept the accusations of genocide,” Erdogan said. The Turkish president said the Ottoman Empire was under a constant state of attack during 1915-16, and what happened to Armenians in Anatolia was not a coordinated effort led by the government at the time.
Referring to Germany’s guilt over the Holocaust, Erdogan scoffed that it was the “last country” to make such accusations.
He added Germany would also be better advised to re-examine the slaughter of indigenous Namibians under the German Empire over a century ago, which Berlin has yet to officially term a genocide.
Erdogan had said in comments published in Turkish newspapers earlier that he wondered how German officials could look Turkey’s leaders in the face after the vote in the Bundestag.
He expressed disappointment over conduct of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stayed away from the Bundestag debate, saying he wished she had taken part “and cast her vote.”
“Now I wonder how, after such a decision, German officials will look at me personally and our prime minister in the face,” Erdogan said.