Turkey accuses Greeks of bloodshed 200 years ago
Turkey has not forgotten the killings that Greeks committed against ethnic Turks during its early 19th-century war of independence from the Ottoman Empire, according to Turkish Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Hami Aksoy.
The Greek president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, referred to the Armenian genocide, which occurred during the First World War, in a recent visit to Armenia.
The visit prompted Aksoy to say: “Greece systematically annihilated Turks and Muslims in the region during and after the period of independence from the Ottoman Empire.”
Greece condemned the Turkish remarks. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens stated: “Turkey’s insistence on distorting history is unbecoming of a modern state. We call on Turkey to reflect on its historical responsibilities, especially regarding its conduct towards the Greek minority. Turkey should follow Greece’s example and, at long last, work to consolidate good neighbourly relations in our region and, of course, its European perspective.”
The Turkish spokesman Aksoy also alleged the encirclement of Turkey and its increasing isolation, alleging Athens was taking sides with the “hostile circles” against Turkey and supporting “their baseless stance and allegations”.
“We believe that favouring friendship and good neighbourliness is the only way to promote peace, stability and welfare in our region,” the spokesman said.
Aksoy added that Greek persecution of its Turkish and Muslim minorities continued. “Even today, Greece continues its inhumane practices against its Turkish minorities, taking it as far as to punish muftis [imam] with imprisonment for performing a Friday prayer.” An Islamic preacher was recently arrested in Greece.
He rejected the term “genocide” over the Armenian massacres after in 1915. Turkey says the estimated 1.5 million deaths were a tragedy caused by some of the Armenian population siding with the invading Russian forces against the Ottomans and that there were killings on both sides.
The US House of Representatives on October 29 formally recognised the Armenian genocide, voting overwhelmingly by 405-11 for the resolution.
Pushed by Armenian-American advocacy groups, earlier moves have been countered by lobbying led by Turkey, often with the backing of the US State Department and the Pentagon, which until recently saw Turkey as a key Nato ally.
Aksoy accused Greece of having no moral high ground to criticise Turkey for the Armenian genocide.
During the Greek war of independence of 1821 to 1832, it is estimated that between 20,000 and 40,000 Turks and Muslims were killed.
The Delacroix episode from the Greek War of Independence, painted in 1856. Picture credit: Wikimedia