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Gul says genocide was not part of Turkey's history

26 January 2011 [14:50] - TODAY.AZ
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that genocide had never been a part of Turkey's history, adding, "if we concentrate on the history, no one in Europe cannot look at each other's face. What we have to do is to create a better future together."

President Gul addressed the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of PACE after Turkey has taken over chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. He also replied questions of members of the PACE.

"Turkey has made a series of reforms to raise democratic and legal standards. There are still many things to do. Turkey is aware of its deficiencies and continue making reforms with a great determination," he said.

President Gul said that general election would take place in Turkey this summer, adding that preparation of a new constitution would be high on the country's agenda after the election.

Asked about restoration of places of worship belonged to the minorities in Turkey, President Gul said, "we are obliged to respect people's religious beliefs. Freedom of religion is one of the most important parts of the fundamentals rights and freedoms. Anyone should be able to perform their religious duties freely in Turkey. Restoration of old mosques and churches have already begun with the support of the government. For instance, the historical Armenian church in eastern Turkey has been restored."

Replying to a question about "illegal" migration, President Gul said, "Turkey has taken all necessary measures and set up cooperation ties with international organizations to prevent illegal migration on its territories. I believe that we need to further develop cooperation in combat against illegal migration instead of accusing each other."

Referring to Turkey-Israel relations, President Gul said, "Turkey's role as a mediator in the Middle East aims at ensuring stability, tranquillity and cooperation in the region. Our country has rooted relations with all countries in a vast geography. As a result, we have the capacity to contribute to solution of problems in our region. Both Israeli government and Palestinians requested our assistance in the past. Latest situation in Turkey-Israel relations emerged as a preference of Israel. As for the ongoing Gazan blockade, the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the other human rights organizations said that such a collective punishment was not legal. As you know, an aid flotilla carrying people from 47 countries was subject to an attack by Israeli forces in the international waters. It is not Turkey, but Israel which is responsible for the recent situation in Turkey-Israel relations."

Asked about the Armenian allegations on the incidents of 1915, President Gul said, "genocide has never been a part of our history. We called on Armenia to establish a joint commission to carry out a detailed research. We are also ready to open our military and civil archives. Saddening things happened during the World War 1. The Ottoman Empire had to relocate some of its citizens after they uprise against the state. Genocide means intentional killing of people from a certain faith or race. In those days, Armenian citizens were acting as ambassadors, members of the higher courts in the Ottoman Empire. All Armenian churches were open then. It is unacceptable to define those bitter events as genocide. If we concentrate on the history, no one in Europe cannot look at each other's face. What we have to do is to create a better future together."

"Turkey has made a significant progress in its zero-problem policy for the neighboring countries. Turkey has the political will to normalize its relations with Armenia. But, 20 percent of Azerbaijiani territory has been under occupation of Armenia. Armenia has to withdraw from Azerbaijani territory," he said.

President Gul also complained about the European Union's visa proceedings for Turkish citizens. "The Union should review and change its visa policy," he said.


/World Bulletin/
URL: http://www.today.az/news/regions/79958.html

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