Turkey PM Top Advisor Mahçupyan Steps Down after ‘Genocide’ Comments


Etyen Mahcupyan

Etyen Mahcupyan

ANKARA (Agence France Presse) — The first ever member of Turkey’s Armenian community to hold the post of senior advisor to the Turkish prime minister has retired, an official announced on Thursday, April 16, after he described the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as “genocide.”

The official, who asked not to be named, denied any link between the departure of Etyen Mahçupyan and the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Mahçupyan, 65, “has retired on the grounds of age,” the official said, noting this was the age limit for all Turkish civil servants.

Mahçupyan, who was appointed last year as senior advisor to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, infuriated some within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) this week when he qualified the mass killings of Armenians as “genocide.”

“If accepting that what happened in Bosnia and Africa were genocides, it is impossible not to call what happened to Armenians in 1915 genocide too,” Mahçupyan said in an interview published this week.

Turkey, which has always rejected the term genocide, has taken a defiant line amid growing tensions over the characterization of the tragedy ahead of the 100th anniversary.

The European Parliament on Wednesday urged Turkey to use the centenary of Ottoman-era massacres to “recognize the Armenian genocide” and help promote reconciliation between the two peoples.

The use of the word by Pope Francis Sunday infuriated Ankara and prompted Davutoglu to accuse the pontiff of “blackmail” against Turkey.