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Opposition Leader Urges Armenians To Leave Turkey

Vahan Hovannisian
Vahan Hovannisian
YEREVAN -- An Armenian opposition leader has urged Armenian immigrants living in Turkey to return home, claiming a threat by Turkey's prime minister to expel them has put their security at risk, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Vahan Hovannisian, who leads the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun) faction in parliament, said today that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had "unmasked himself" with his comments, made in an interview on March 17.

In the interview, Erdogan said that the presence of an estimated 100,000 Armenians currently living in Turkey without citizenship may no longer be tolerated.

His remark followed resolutions by U.S. and Swedish lawmakers branding the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

"As regards our fellow Armenians who have found themselves in Turkey for one or another economic reason, I am advising them to immediately leave that country because it's obvious with whom we are dealing," Hovannisian said. "A threat voiced from such a high level can be deemed by some elements a signal for anti-Armenian actions."

Turkey rejects the label genocide for the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians by Turkish forces.

In a speech today, Erdogan said that Armenians in the Ottoman Empire never faced a genocidal government policy and, on the contrary, actually plotted to "exterminate" Turks.