Declarations made at the 7th Ambassadors Conference have revealed Turkey’s ‘action plan’ for the 100th anniversary of the Genocide. According to the plan, the ‘leaving the issue to historians’ thesis will once again take centre stage, and church renovations will be underlined. Foreign commission members state that they will carry out ‘stunning’ lobbying efforts abroad.
Speaker of the Parliament Cemil Çiçek met with presidents of foreign commissions, while EU Harmonization and Foreign Affairs Commission presidents, the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission President and the Turkey delegation heads of international parliamentary heads attended the meeting.
‘Foreigners are campaigning’
Speaking at the meeting, Çiçek reportedly said, “Foreigners are campaigning across the world in 2015 around unfounded claims of Genocide” adding that Turkey had to implement a serious counter-lobbying effort in 2014. Çiçek stated that he would focus on the thesis of leaving the issue to historians in his official contacts, and continued:
“Historical events need to be evaluated by historians and scientists. It is not correct to take a decision at parliament-level until an outcome emerges from the work of the Joint Historical Commission. We will support whatever the outcome is from the Commission. We have to focus on this with our foreign colleagues.”
‘Stunning lobbying activities’
Parliamentary foreign commission members will also carry out lobbying activities in foreign countries. EU Affairs Committee Chairman Mehmet Tekelioğlu stated that Turkey would implement activities that could be described as stunning and surprising.
‘Our efforts for Akhtamar renovation must be put across’
In his statement at the Ambassadors Conference, the Minister of Culture and Tourism Ömer Çelik said that they would use the concept ‘cultural diplomacy’ for 2015.
Çelik stated that Turkey prioritized the protection of cultural values regardless of their religious origin, and implemented church renovations, adding, “We have to underline that the Akhtamar Church has been renovated in the way they requested, that its Armenian has been given by the joint decision of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Ministry of Culture, this needs to be listed as one of Turkey’s virtues, and must be put across well”.
Çelik also stated that they would take another important step in February for the historical city of Ani, known as the “city of a thousand and one churches and 40 gates” to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2016.
Çelik added that they were carrying out work to investigate what kind of opening they could achieve via common cultural values between Armenia and Turkey, describing the process as “Ani Diplomacy”.