Turkish envoy returns to deal with ADL

Exclusive: Ankara expects Foxman statement on genocide will "be corrected."

armenia genocide 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
armenia genocide 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Turkish ambassador is set to end his vacation two weeks early to return to Israel and register Turkey's concerns about the Anti-Defamation League's statement that Turkish actions toward the Armenians from 1915-1918 were "tantamount to genocide," The Jerusalem Post has learned. The decision to send Namik Tan back on Thursday came at a high-level meeting at the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara on Wednesday. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also expected to call Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the coming days to discuss the matter. The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling the ADL statement "unfortunate," and said Turkey expected that the statement would "be corrected." ADL National Director Abe Foxman issued a statement Tuesday saying that Turkey's actions against Armenians "were tantamount to genocide," in a dramatic reversal of a long-standing policy. The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said that to describe the events during WWI as "genocide" was "without historical and legal basis," and that contrary to the ADL's claim, there was no consensus on this matter among historians. "We see this statement as an unfortunate one that is unjust to the Holocaust, which has no precedent, and to its victims. And we expect it to be corrected," the statement read. Israel's Foreign Ministry had no comment on the matter, which both Israeli and Turkish diplomatic sources privately admit could strain bilateral relations. One Turkish official said the fact there was no reference in the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement to Israeli-Turkish relations was a message to the Jewish state not to change its policy on the genocide issue. Israel's position on this matter was last formally articulated in March, when the Knesset shelved a proposal for a parliamentary discussion on the Armenian genocide. Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri, speaking on behalf of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, said at the time: "As Jews and Israelis we have special sympathy and a moral obligation to commemorate the massacres that were perpetrated against the Armenians in the last years of Ottoman rule. The State of Israel never denied these terrible acts. On the contrary, we understand fully the intense emotional feelings aroused by this, taking into consideration the number of victims, and the suffering of the Armenian people." Ben-Yizri also said Israel understood that this was a "loaded" issue between the Armenians and Turks, and that Israel hoped "both sides will reach an open dialogue that will enable them to heal the wounds that have been left open." The Turkish Foreign Ministry also took the ADL to task for suggesting that the organization's change of policy could place Turkey's Jewish community in danger. "The Turkish Jewish community is part and parcel of our society, and there is no reason for them to have concerns," the ministry said in its statement. The ADL had said that a US Congressional resolution on the genocide issue would be a "counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, and may put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United States."