Turkey Protests Israeli Plans to Include Armenian "Genocide" in Textbooks
Turkey protested Tuesday against suggestions by Israeli Education Minister Yossi Sarid to include the Armenian "genocide" by Ottoman Turks in 1915 in its school program.
The Turkish foreign ministry said in a written statement that the minister plenipotentiary of the Israeli embassy in Ankara, Moshe Kamhi, was summoned to meet the ministry's deputy undersecretary, Ugur Ziyal.
Ziyal "has expressed our reaction to Minister Sarid's remarks and asked him to convey our opinions and expectations to Israeli authorities," the statement said.
At a ceremony on Monday in Jerusalem to commemorate the day regarded as the start of the 1915 events, Sarid said he would "do everything so that Israeli pupils will study and know about the Armenian genocide".
Armenians maintain Ottoman Turks killed as many as 1.3 million Armenians in 1915, while Ankara says the number is closer to 300,000.
Disputes over whether the slaughter was a genocide -- the deliberate destruction of a racial, political or cultural group -- have previously led to a diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel, who have enjoyed close military links since 1996.
Turkey categorically rejects the genocide claims, saying thousands of Turks also died in what it describes as internal fighting during the Ottoman Empire's last years.
In 1997, Turkey refused to approve the appointment as Isreali ambassador to Ankara of Ehud Toledano, an expert on Ottoman history, reportedly over remarks made 15 years earlier accusing Turkey of having "massacred the Armenians during World War I".
Meanwhile, the Turkish foreign ministry also said it had summoned the Greek embassy's undersecretary, Danae Kumanaku, over the burning of the Turkish flag by a group of demonstrators in front of the Turkish embassy in Athens.
The Greek diplomat was "told that we condemn the incident and that such incidents do not constitute to the positive atmosphere between the two countries", the statement said.
It added that Kumanaku had expressed his government's condemnation of the incident -- ANKARA (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)