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U.S. President Joe Biden’s recognition of 1915 events as “genocide” is for two reasons; domestic politics and his declaration that Washington would return to the international stage, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on May 1.
“I guess, he’s trying to use such a phenomenon as a tool to come back to one part of the world. And I strongly believe that these two reasons are totally the wrong start for him and for U.S. foreign policy,” Oktay told TRT World.
Biden’s remarks that called the events of 1915 “genocide” on April 24, broke with a long–held tradition by American presidents of refraining from using the term.
Turkey swiftly rejected the term as null and void and Oktay told TRT that Boden’s comments have to be based on facts of the history and evidence.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Biden’s remarks “unfounded, unjust and contrary to the facts about the painful events that took place more than a century ago.”
On why the international community has been ignoring Turkey’s insistence to set up an international commission to examine the archives, Oktay said that even a primary school student will understand Ankara’s proposition of forming a committee by historians, not by politicians.
He said that politicians might be moved by the tendency of political reason. “Just because of the lobbies, just because of the promises made to those Armenian or Armenian affected lobbies, you cannot make a historic decision and you cannot claim a nation responsible for a genocide.”
“The term genocide itself is not an easy word to use for anyone. If a genocide word has to be used, that has to be used for the United States, not for Turkey,” he said.
The future of US–Turkey ties
Regarding U.S.–Turkey relations, Oktay said there are already certain issues between both countries that are being discussed.
While Turkey was trying its best to open communications channels and hoping it might be a new beginning in relations, Biden’s move brought an extra complexity to a relationship with difficulties, he said.
One being is the U.S. sending tons of weapons to the YPG/PKK/PYD terror organization that Oktay said is a real problem between Ankara and Washington in recent years.
Another issue is the head of the FETÖ terror organization, Fetullah Gülen, who lives in the U.S., and “the U.S. is not doing anything about it,” he said.
Oktay acknowledged there are always opportunities and possibilities for which the two countries have been focused and said even during the move regarding 1915 events, Biden and Erdoğan spoke to each other.
“They’re going to be meeting during the NATO Summit in June. So hopefully that will be a new beginning,” he said.
He also emphasized that Turkey is the country in the region that any country in the world would have to deal with to develop or implement any regional policy in the region.
Oktay said let us put problems aside and handle them one by one.
“Let’s form the related committees work on them technically and look into a brighter future. And then work on the potentials between the two countries.”
Drawing attention that Turkey’s fight against the YPG/PYD terror group remains its priority, he said, “because it’s directly related to our security, directly related to our own people’s security and our border security.”
“We will do our best as we do with all the countries and we are partners for years indeed with the U.S.. But relations, again, has to be reset, if that’s the right term to put forward,” he said. “So we have to have a new beginning in June. So we look forward the U.S. administration to reconsider their decision.”
In its more than 35–year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
FETÖ and its U.S.–based leader, Fetullah Gulen, orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which killed 251 people and injured 2,734.
Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long–running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
On Cyprus, Oktay said the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is looking forward to sovereignty and equal states rather than going forward and discussing a federal structure.
“Let’s look into a new vision,” he said, adding that the 5+1 meeting was about looking to see whether there is ground or hope for a new vision. “What TRNC President [Ersin] Tatar has brought is a new vision to the table indeed.”
A three–day informal 5+1 gathering in Geneva this week was hosted by U.N. chief Antonio Guterres, with the participation of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders, and foreign ministers of the island’s three guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece, and the U.K..
He said the Greek side did not bring any new proposal to the table and came with exactly what they have been saying for the last 60 years.
He conceded that Turkey recognizes TRNC as a sovereign, independent and democratic state and said Ankara backs TRNC’s visionary decision and the two nations will be together in this adventure.
Cyprus has been mired in a decades–long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the U.N. to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island’s Turks and Turkey’s intervention as a guarantor power.
It has seen an on–and–off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K..
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded in 1983.
The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the European Union in 2004, although most Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N. settlement plan in a referendum that year, which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the EU.