Turkey needs to develop a strategy to counter pressure to acknowledge the World War I killings of Armenians as a genocide as the 100th anniversary of the massacres looms, a top Turkish diplomat said Monday, Agence France Presse reports.
Altay Cengizer, director general for policy planning at the Turkish foreign ministry, told the Hurriyet daily that U.S.-based Armenian Diaspora groups saw the centenary as an opportunity to prove that genocide was carried out and planned by the Ottoman authorities.
He likened the anniversary to a “penalty shot” that some saw as a chance to settle the issue, adding that the biggest nightmare for Turkey would be for the United States to recognize the mass killings and deportations as genocide.
“We are challenging the fact that it was a penalty. But they will take their chance,” he said.
He made it clear that Turkey – which has always categorically rejected the term genocide – had no intention of shifting its position.
“Genocide is a political concept. Turkey does not deserve to appear before the world as a nation that committed genocide,” he said.
Cengizer said he had just returned from Washington and saw that “a great campaign of accusations” was being prepared by Armenian diaspora groups.
“Their aim is to leave Turkey with a past that it won’t be able to overcome. And 2015 is their target,” he said.
“Turkey will make every effort to say what we believe is right against these claims, which target our very identity,” said Cengizer.
“But time will tell how successful this is. If we are not successful we are going to have to determine a strategy for post-2015. There is no other way,” he said.