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Montevideo, May 28th 2024 - 19:06 UTC



Turkish FM racist and ultra-right-wing gestures in Montevideo sparks controversies

Tuesday, April 26th 2022 - 09:59 UTC
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“Advancing in trade issues with any country in the world does not mean sharing internal or external policies,” Lacalle explained “Advancing in trade issues with any country in the world does not mean sharing internal or external policies,” Lacalle explained

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou described a gesture by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu against Armenian demonstrators in Montevideo Uruguay as “regrettable,” while Ankara's Ambassador has been summoned to account for the events.

Çavuşoğlu was recorded on video as he made a gesture linked to the ultra-right-wing and ultra-nationalist Turkish organization Grey Wolves.

Lacalle also underlined that the Armenian community in Uruguay was “hurt and rightly so.” Saturday's protests in front of the newly-opened Turkish Embassy in Montevideo were in repudiation of Çavuşoğlu's visit to the country the day before the 107th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide.

“This year's commemoration is marked by the untimely visit of the Turkish Foreign Minister to Uruguay and the racist, xenophobic and violent message he conveyed ... to the Armenian community demonstrating in front of the embassy in Montevideo,” by making the gesture of the Turkish far-right organization the Grey Wolves, said the Armenian Cause Council of Uruguay in a statement posted on Facebook.

Lacalle Pou thus assured the community that both his party, the National Party (PN, center-right) and the coalition that forms his government and “Uruguay as a whole” cares about the issue, as the country was a “pioneer” in recognizing the existence of the Armenian genocide 57 years ago.

The President also pointed to the difference between negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with Turkey and endorsing that country's policies on other issues.

“Advancing in trade issues with any country in the world does not mean sharing internal or external policies,” Lacalle explained.

“One thing is the work of Uruguayans and another is to endorse or confirm some political practices in some countries,” he went on.

Çavuşoğlu held a meeting with Uruguayan Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo Saturday after which both signed the terms of reference that kicked off the negotiation process for an FTA. Turkey was the tenth destination of Uruguayan exports in 2021.

The paramilitary organization Grey Wolves, which denies the existence of the Armenian genocide and defends that Turkey is a single entity without distinctions, was banned in 2020 by European countries such as Austria and France after attacks by its members against the local Armenian community were registered. The group became one of the main supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The movement targets Armenians, separatist Kurds, leftist militants, and human rights defenders, and has been behind numerous attacks.

Perpetrated in 1915 by Ottoman troops, the Armenian Genocide is commemorated on April 24, the date of the first arrests of Armenian intellectuals, considered the beginning of these massacres. The Armenian Genocide is recognized by some thirty countries and by the historical community. Between 1.2 and 1.5 million Armenians were killed during World War I by troops of the Ottoman Empire, then allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

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