Turkey has not forgotten the atrocities that Greeks committed against Turks during the former’s war of independence, the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Hami Aksoy said today.
Responding to a statement regarding the Armenian genocide made by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos in his recent visit to Armenia, Aksoy stated that “Greece systematically annihilated Turks and Muslims in the region during and after the period of independence from the Ottoman Empire.”
Aksoy made mention of the alleged encirclement of Turkey in the region and on the international stage, condemning Greece for continuing “to take side with the hostile circles against Turkey and support their baseless stance and allegations,” adding that
“We believe that favouring friendship and good neighbourliness is the only way to promote peace, stability and welfare in our region.”
Aksoy also warned that the Greek persecution of its Turkish and Muslim minority takes place to this day, saying that “Even today, Greece continues its inhumane practices against its Turkish minorities, taking it as far as to punish Muftis with imprisonment for performing a Friday prayer,” referencing the recent case of a Mufti (Islamic religious figure) who was arrested in Greece.
The spokesman touched upon the issue of the Ottoman Empire’s massacre of Armenians in 1915, in which 1.5 million are alleged to have been killed, and stressed that Turkey’s position has already been made clear regarding it. Turkey denies the term “genocide” with regards the massacres, holding that they were a tragedy caused by some of the Armenian population siding with the invading Russian forces against the Ottomans and that both sides suffered casualties. Much of the world, as well as the US more recently, has condemned the incident and recognised it as a genocide.
Aksoy insisted that Turkey is “well aware of the said historical realities” and prefers to derive lessons of peace and fraternity rather than enmity from history, using the Greek atrocities against Turks as an example of why the country should not lecture Turkey on moral issues. During the Greek war of independence against the Ottoman Empire in 1823, it is estimated that between 20,000–40,000 Turks and Muslims were killed by Greek rebels, being responsible for suddenly wiping out much of that community in what is now Greek territory.