08/25 EJP: US Jewish group retracts stance on Armenian genocide
US Jewish group retracts stance on Armenian genocide
AFP and EJP Updated: 25/Aug/2007 18:39
ANKARA (AFP-EJP)---A prominent US Jewish advocacy group has retracted its decision to call the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire a genocide, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday.
"The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) has sent us a statement sharing our sensitivity on this issue," Erdogan was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying.
"With this statement, they have retracted their previous erroneous step."
The ADL unleashed anger in Turkey this week when it said in a written statement that it had changed its position on the Armenian massacres after consultations with experts.
But in a separate statement on Thursday the group was more circumspect on the World War I events.
"Although independent scholars may have reached a consensus about the genocide, in an effort to help accomplish the reconciliation (between Turkey and Armenia) there is room for further dispassionate scholarly examination of the details of those dark and terrible days," the second statement read.
The ADL move sparked concerns here that Ankara may be losing the support of the powerful Jewish lobby in the United States against efforts there to have the killings recognised as genocide and pass a resolution to that effect from the Congress.
Israel, Turkey’s main regional ally, was quick to respond to prevent a fallout in bilateral ties.
Israeli President Shimon Peres phoned Erdogan on Thursday to assure him of Israel’s desire to maintain close bilateral ties.
On Wednesday, the Israeli embassy in Ankara said the Jewish state acknowledges the "horrible events" and the "terrible suffering" the Armenians endured, but urged Jews not to take sides.
The Jewish community in Turkey expressed regret over the position adopted by a US Jewish group., endorsing Turkey’s position that this question should be debated at academic level with full access to the archives of all concerned parties and that parliaments are not the appropriate platforms for finding the truth about historical events.
The Turkish press said Turkey had asked Israel to convince the Jewish lobby in the United States to support Turkey in its efforts to block congressional moves to recognise the killings as genocide.
Turkey categorically rejects claims that 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in systematic deportations and killings during 1915-1918 as the Ottoman Empire was breaking up.