08/25 Zaman: ADL corrects ‘genocide’ mistake in letter, Erdoğan says

ADL corrects ‘genocide’ mistake in letter, Erdoğan says

The US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed regret over debates centered on its recent decision to recognize Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in a letter addressing PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Foxman said in his letter that the ADL had huge respect for the Turkish people and has never desired to put the Turkish people and their leaders into a difficult situation, expressing deep regret over what the Turkish people had to go through in the past few days since it agreed to recognize the alleged genocide, reversing a long-held policy, the Anatolia news agency said.Foxman also said the ADL would continue to look for ways to improve relations with Turkey, lamenting the fact that the latest debates strained ties between Turkey and the ADL.

"The wrong step that has been taken is corrected," said Erdoğan in subsequent comments to reporters. "They said they shared our sensitivity and expressed the mistake they made. … They said they will continue to give us all the support they have given so far," he added.

In a statement published on its Internet site on Thursday, the ADL said it was ready to support reconciliation efforts between Turks and Armenians after it sent shockwaves through Ankara by recognizing Armenian allegations of genocide earlier this week.

Reports in the Turkish media said the move followed a telephone conversation between Erdoğan and Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday. Erdoğan stressed the "futility" of the ADL decision to call the events genocide in the conversation and Peres responded by saying that Israel's well-known position on the issue of genocide claims has not changed. The Israeli prime minister also said Israel attached great importance to relations with Turkey and promised to "advocate Turkey's position on the issue in the US."

Reports said Peres then called ADL National Director Foxman.

"We must encourage steps to create an atmosphere in which Armenia will respond favorably to the several recent overtures of Turkey to convene a joint commission to assist the parties in achieving a resolution of their profound differences. We believe there are many renowned historians, human rights activists and distinguished world leaders who are willing to lend their knowledge, experience and judgment to this cause. We know that earlier this year, Professor Elie Wiesel and more than 50 of his fellow Nobel Laureates called for concrete steps to be taken by Turkey and Armenia to find a way forward to reach the goal of reconciliation, and that, last week, Professor Wiesel reaffirmed his support for efforts to create a body in which both Turkish and Armenian experts can come together to work cooperatively in re-examining the shared past of both peoples. The force and passion of the debate today leaves us more convinced than ever that this issue does not belong in a forum such as the United States Congress," the ADL's Thursday statement said, going on to say: "Although independent scholars may have reached a consensus about the genocide, in an effort to help accomplish the reconciliation there is room for further dispassionate scholarly examination of the details of those dark and terrible days."

"ADL and the American Jewish community should focus their attention on supporting efforts to urge Turkey and Armenia to make this happen," the statement added, though it used the g-word, "genocide."

Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in a systematic genocide campaign by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, but Ankara categorically rejects the label, saying that both Armenians and Turks died in civil strife during World War I when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with Russian troops invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire.

Ahead of Erdoğan's conversation with Peres, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Levent Bilman said there was no "consensus" among scientists and historians that the World War I events constituted genocide, contrary to the ADL's conviction that there is. "Moreover, it is Turkey who has asked Armenia to establish a joint commission and reveal the historical realities. No positive response has yet been made to this offer," he added. It sparked attention that the ADL referred to the same proposal in its Thursday statement.

Envoy to hold more talks in Israel

Meanwhile, Turkey's Ambassador to Israel Namık Tan, who this week cut short his holiday in Turkey to return to Israel, told the Anatolia news agency yesterday that he would once more voice Turkey's stance on the ADL statement during talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, both currently on vacation.

Ankara believes that as much as Turkey attributes high importance to its relations with Israel, Israel attributes the same level of importance to its relations with Turkey, Tan said. "These statements do not have any legal and historical grounds. They should be corrected without fail," he added, noting that the statements have not been compatible with Turkey's existing strategic relations with either Israel or the US.


Source: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=120350