Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu making the Gray Wolves gesture in Uruguay on April 23

Turkish FM Makes Gray Wolves Gesture to Crowd in Uruguay Visit

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MONTEVIDEO/YEREVAN (JAM News) — During his visit to Uruguay, on April 23, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu showed the local Armenians gathered in front of the Turkish embassy in Montevideo the sign of the fascist 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.

Amid the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey, Çavusoglu’s gesture raised questions in the Armenian society, including to its authorities, who entered into negotiations with Ankara. So far, official Yerevan, represented by the Foreign Ministry, has not reacted to the incident in any way and there is no comment on the ministry’s website yet. Experts do not rule out that this could have been Turkey’s attempt to provoke the Armenian authorities to abandon the process of establishing bilateral relations.

Ankara and Montevideo are discussing the possibility of signing a free trade agreement. Çavusoglu had 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 Çavusoglu’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.)

As Çavusoglu, with a smile on his face, made the gesture, embassy staff, who were next to the car, applauded him.

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The first to condemn the gesture of the head of Turkish diplomacy was President Luis Lacal Pou, who called the incident “regrettable.” Çavusoglu 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 summoned by the Foreign Ministry of Uruguay.

The gesture also raised temperatures in Yerevan. 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 Çavusoglu’s gesture as “sobering”: “You know, there are millions of hidden Armenians in Turkey, and yesterday I was convinced that one of them is Çavusoglu 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.”

Çavusoglu’s behavior reminded former Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan of the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler.

@MevlutCavusoglu “grey wolves” salute is disgusting, disgraceful and racist”, the Armenian diplomat wrote on Twitter. “Hitler is saluting back from his grave.”

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”.

Political observer Hakob Badalyan considers Çavusoglu’s “gesture” an expression of cynicism. However, he does not rule out that this manifestation of cynicism has “irritating political overtones,” for example, in connection with the Armenian-Turkish process of normalizing relations.

Badalyan believes that Turkey is annoyed, in particular, by the fact that the Armenian-Turkish dialogue is not direct, but indirect:“It’s annoying, because they need the Armenian-Turkish process, at least in the context of international political realities, and they do not consider it expedient to abandon it. And it is possible that there will be such “cynical provocations” to push Armenia to abandon the process, and thus the responsibility for disrupting the process will fall on Armenia”.

Hakob Badalyan considers a direct conversation important, but he is sure that Armenia should try to use the influence of “third parties”:

“All the same, they [the Turkish side] have enough potential for influence. In this case, it is more expedient to work with this “influence”. In addition, the “third party” factor must be used at least to some extent to compensate for the huge difference in ‘weight categories’ that exists between Armenia and Turkey.”

 

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