Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hitchens: Can You Believe What the Turkish Prime Minister Said About the Armenians?

Shut Up About Armenians or We'll Hurt Them Again 

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's latest sinister threat.


In my country there are 170,000 Armenians. Seventy thousand of them are citizens. We tolerate 100,000 more. So, what am I going to do tomorrow? If necessary I will tell the 100,000: OK, time to go back to your country. Why? They are not my citizens. I am not obliged to keep them in my country.
This extraordinary threat was not made at some stupid rally in a fly-blown town. It was uttered in England, on March 17, on the Turkish-language service of the BBC. Just to be clear, then, about the view of Turkey's chief statesman: If democratic assemblies dare to mention the ethnic cleansing of Armenians in the 20th century, I will personally complete that cleansing in the 21st!

Where to begin? Turkish "guest workers" are to be found in great numbers all through the European Union, membership of which is a declared Turkish objective. How would the world respond if a European prime minister called for the mass deportation of all Turks? Yet Erdogan's xenophobic demagoguery attracted precisely no condemnation from Washington or Brussels. He probably overestimated the number of "tolerated" economic refugees from neighboring and former Soviet Armenia, but is it not interesting that he keeps a count in his head? And a count of the tiny number of surviving Turkish Armenians as well?
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