The Turkish Press responded en masse to this year’s annual commemoration of the 1915 massacres of Armenians perpetrated by the Ottoman imperial government. According to their ideological sympathies, newspapers noted and criticized statements like those from Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, as well as advertisements published in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune (Milliyet). The daily Yeni Şafak noted the careful wording of the statement issued by President Barack Obama, who referred to the events in 1915 as “Meds Yeghern” (which could contextually be interpreted as “catastrophe”) rather than including the word “genocide.”
Early in the week, Zaman daily newspaper recounted in full detail aspects of Amnesty International’s report regarding the severe mistreatment of Muslims across Europe. The paper linked Amnesty International’s findings to the recent first-round results in France’s presidential elections, in which far-right candidate Marine Le Pen won 19 percent of the vote.
As discreetly as they could, members of Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a public statement of permission for Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi to remain in Turkey, citing the political motivations behind the arrest warrant issued against him by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Hashimi later attended one-on-one meetings with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, ostensibly regarding a conference to ease political tensions within Iraq (Sabah).
While addressing the National Assembly, Erdoğan harshly criticized Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (Hürriyet), leader the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s main opposition party, by producing documents that the Prime Minister claimed substantiated his theory that the CHP shut down 513 mosques between 1926 and 1950 (Akşam). Erdoğan demanded an apology from Kılıçdaroğlu on behalf of the CHP (Sabah). This story illuminates one of the major themes in the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) public relations strategy over the past several months. It has apologized for crimes and human rights abuses committed by past governments led by its ideological rivals, in this case attempting to discredit the party founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The AKP’s apology for the Dersim massacres of 1937–38, as well as the carefully orchestrated statement by AKP MP İsmet Uçma regarding collective regret over the Armenian massacres, both constitute tactics in the same vein.