Gul denies claims that his family has Armenian roots

CHP deputy Arıtman, who claimed that President Gül's mother is of Armenian origin, continued to attack the president in an interview published in the Milliyet daily yesterday.

Gul denies claims that his family has Armenian roots

Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Canan Arıtman, who claimed that President Abdullah Gül's mother is of Armenian origin, continued to attack the president in an interview published in the Milliyet daily yesterday, saying that she would like to throw a shoe at the president when she sees him in the same way an Iraqi journalist last week hurled a shoe at visiting US President George W. Bush. Gül also released a statement yesterday denying claims that his family has Armenian roots.

Arıtman last week attacked a campaign initiated by a group of intellectuals to apologize for the Armenian massacres of 1915, which Armenians claim constituted genocide. "The false scientists signing it should apologize to Turkey," she said, claiming that Gül -- because of his "ethnic origins" -- was rubberstamping the campaign. "We see that the president supports this campaign. Abdullah Gül should be the president of the entire Turkish nation, not just of those sharing his ethnicity. Investigate the ethnic origin of the president's mother and you will see."

Arıtman drew ire with her comments, with some critics accusing her of racism.

When Gül was asked for his opinion on the campaign, he said the state's stance is to improve relations with its neighbors. "We believe dialogue to be the solution for problems we have with our neighbors. Perpetuating problems is not useful to anyone," he said.

"I would toss a shoe and draw attention to this issue," Arıtman told Milliyet. She also responded to Gül's brother Mehmet Mecit Gül, who said that the Gül and Satoğlu families (the family of Gül's mother) would be suing her. "I wouldn't recommend suing me. They would be embarrassed. There is no legal basis for such a lawsuit," she said. "If I do sue the president on charges of supporting incidents that might lead to an ethnic conflict, that would have a legal basis."

Arıtman also dismissed claims that her remarks were aimed at insulting a particular ethnicity. "The nation has got me. I don't understand why the press just wouldn't," she told Milliyet. She said she had known about Gül's alleged Armenian background for a long time, adding that she should be appreciated for not revealing the information during Gül's election campaign.

My family Turkish for centuries, says Gül

Meanwhile, yesterday, Gül released a statement announcing that his mother's side, the Satoğlu family from Kayseri, and his father's side, the Gül family also from Kayseri, are Muslim and Turkish, according to centuries of written genealogy records.

"I respect the ethnic background, different beliefs and family ties of all my citizens and see this as a reality and also the wealth of our country with its imperial history. I also would like to emphasize that all my citizens are equal to one another regardless of any differences. No one has any superiority whatsoever over another one. Everybody has the equal and same rights under the guarantee of our Constitution," the statement read. "I am proud of our country, which has reached this level of understanding."

Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan, speaking to journalists at Ankara's Esenboğa Airport on Sunday before his departure for Macedonia for an official visit, said the apology campaign was unfair as it was an attempt to unilaterally convict Turkey. However, he said, Arıtman's words were "extremely improper."

"She said things that would have never been said under the oath we take in Parliament," he said. "We can never engage in a behavior such as researching each other's roots and then drawing certain conclusions from there. I would have expected to hear Arıtman agree that her expression went overboard. But I was saddened by her new statements today in newspapers confirming her earlier statement."

Speaking at a CHP congress yesterday, Arıtman responded to Gül's statement. "I never asked the president to announce his genealogical background. I just wanted him to protect his nation and state, the duty assigned to him by the Constitution."

"Why doesn't the president show the principled stance shown by the prime minister?" Arıtman asked during congress. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reacted harshly to the statement, saying he had nothing to apologize for.

"It is wrong for the president not to demonstrate the same stance. How can a president not protect the rights and pride of his state and nation?" she asked, telling Milliyet that the campaign had worked to create the impression in the international community that Turkey had accepted the allegations of genocide.

"Armenian intellectuals posted an online thank you letter to Gül," Arıtman said. "An Azerbaijani deputy I know will translate and send it to me. They are telling Gül: 'Thank you. You have [made yourself a place] in history by being the first president to recognize the genocide.'"How come the president -- who never remembers democracy and freedoms in Workers' Day celebrations when women on the ground are being kicked by the police -- supports those who say we committed genocide and who apologizes for that?" The CHP also reacted to Arıtman's comments on Gül's Armenian background.

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Last Mod: 22 Aralık 2008, 08:51
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