June 18, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – Speaking today at a Washington, DC press conference, the Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Ugur Ziyal, dismissed the idea that dialogue between the Turkish government and Armenians would ever lead to Turkish acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The June 18th “Newsmaker” briefing took place at the National Press Club before a group of approximately forty reporters and others who follow events in Turkey, including ANCA Government Affairs Director Abraham Niziblian and ten ANCA interns. The title of Ziyal’s remarks was “Mending the Rift Between the U.S. and Turkey.”

Following his prepared remarks, Ziyal fielded eight questions, including two from representatives of the ANCA. Both dealt with the implications for Turkish Armenian relations of Turkey’s ongoing campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide. Responding to these questions, Ziyal first denied that there was such an event as the Armenian Genocide, noting, as an aside, that his own grandfather had assured him that nothing resembling genocide had taken place. He then denied that the Turkish Foreign Ministry had recently sent its Director of Intelligence and Research, Ecvet Tezcan, a vocal Armenian Genocide denier, to the meet with Armenian Americans in order to derail Congressional efforts toward recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Ziyal made a special point of stressing that neither dialogue nor “political pressure” would ever lead Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, for the simple reason that it did not take place.

“Ziyal’s dismissal of the idea that dialogue would lead to Turkey’s acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide further substantiates our view that the real purpose of the recent meetings arranged by the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s Director of Intelligence and Research, Ecvet Tezcan, was not true dialogue, but instead a cynical – although transparent – effort to forestall Congressional steps toward recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Ziyal’s stark, public, and repeated denials of the Armenian Genocide demonstrate that the Turkish government will – at any cost and through any means – seek to continue avoiding its present day responsibilities for this crime against humanity.”

In recent weeks, the Turkish government has escalated its Armenian Genocide denial campaign. Among the steps it has taken was the formal decree issued by Education Minister Huseyin Celik requiring the teaching of Armenian Genocide denial to the next generation of Turkey’s school children. Other steps include the Turkish Embassy’s hiring of the Harbour Group public relations and lobbying firm.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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