During his visit to Uruguay, the Turkish Foreign Minister showed the local Armenians gathered in front of the Turkish embassy in Montevideo the sign of the Gray Wolves organization. With a gesture of Turkish far-right nationalists, the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry reacted to the action of protesters against his arrival in Uruguay on the eve of the 107th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
The Turkish Foreign Minister was in Uruguay on a working visit. Ankara and Montevideo are discussing the possibility of signing a free trade agreement. The Turkish Foreign Minister traveled to Uruguay to hold official meetings, as well as participate in the opening ceremony of the Turkish embassy.
Representatives of the Armenian community of Uruguay gathered near the building of the newly opened embassy to hold a protest against Cavusoglu’s visit and an event in memory of the victims of the genocide.
Uruguay is the first country in the world to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. On April 24, the day of remembrance of the victims of the genocide, an event dedicated to the anniversary of the tragedy was held in the Armenian Square in Montevideo, at which the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay also spoke. During the day, processions and demonstrations were held at the initiative of the local Armenian community.
In response to the protest, Cavusoglu, with a smile on his face, showed a gesture from the car window symbolizing the Turkish nationalist organization Gray Wolves. And the embassy staff, who were next to the car, applauded him.
Condemnation by the Uruguayan authorities
The first to condemn the gesture of the head of Turkish diplomacy was President Luis Lacal Pou, he called the incident “regrettable.” Cavusoglu was also criticized by members of the Uruguayan government and politicians.
Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo, speaking at an event dedicated to the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, stated:
“Uruguay is a country that honors memory, a country that strives for peace and a future. Our country prefers reconciliation in case of confrontation. We preach mutual understanding, tolerance and hope that those who visit this land of peace and tolerance will do the same. I reject and condemn any offensive behavior or gesture that involves physical or mental violence”.
Turkish Ambassador Hussein Muftuoglu has been called in by the Foreign Ministry of Uruguay.
Reaction of Armenian deputies from opposition and ruling party
Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations, member of the ruling Civil Contract faction Eduard Aghajanyan condemned the behavior of the Turkish minister:
“This is a reprehensible act. It in no way contributes to the formation of an atmosphere of mutual understanding and dialogue between the two peoples”.
At the same time, the deputy welcomed the response of the Uruguayan side, which followed the incident, as well as the fact that the Turkish ambassador was invited to the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry for clarification.
Gegham Nazaryan, a member of the Hayastan opposition parliamentary faction (Armenia), described Cavusoglu’s gesture as “sobering”:
“You know, there are millions of hidden Armenians in Turkey, and yesterday I was convinced that one of them is Cavusoglu himself [ironically], who, with a desperate gesture, wanted to sober up the Armenian people, saying that Turkey’s goals are completely different, not those that the head of your country is talking about. It was a sobering call to the Armenian people”.
“Hitler is saluting back from his grave”
Cavusoglu’s behavior reminded former Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan of the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler.
As for the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, the ex-minister believes that the establishment of relations between neighboring nations is a necessary process, but it presupposes conscientiousness and compassion:
“The denial [of the fact of the genocide] by Turkey does not meet the condition of good faith. Stop denying”.