Turkey's opposition MHP leader:'Armenian leader had hand in Khojaly massacre'

The leader of Turkey’s opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Tuesday accused the president of neighboring Armenia of playing a role in a 1992 massacre

Speaking to his party's lawmakers in parliament on Tuesday, Devlet Bahceli said that Armenia should be held accountable for the Khojaly massacre, according to Anadolu Agency.

"The real trouble is that the traitors who had a hand in the Khojaly massacre have taken on key positions in Armenia's political and state life," said Bahceli.

"President Serzh Sargsyan is one of them," Bahceli said referring to the Armenian leader, currently serving his second term.

In 1992, Sargsyan was chairman of a “defense” committee for Upper Karabakh, where the massacre took place.

Bahceli called on the countries of the world to hear the cry of the victims of the Khojaly massacre.

Over 600 killed

The massacre is regarded as one of the bloodiest and most controversial incidents of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan for control of the now-occupied Upper Karabakh region.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, on Feb. 26, 1992, Armenian forces took over the town of Khojaly -- whose population was over 11,000 at the time -- in Karabakh after battering it with heavy artillery and tanks, assisted by an infantry regiment.

The two-hour offensive killed 613 Azerbaijani citizens, including 116 women and 63 children, and critically injured 487 others, according to Azerbaijani figures. One hundred and fifty of the 1,275 Azerbaijanis that the Armenians took hostage during the massacre remain missing.

Bahceli also slammed a recent Dutch parliament motion recognizing the Armenian allegations that the events of 1915 were a "genocide".

Bahceli said the motion was crude and lacked legal or moral meaning.

"Countries whose histories are stained by the slave trade cannot judge us," said Bahceli.

From the 1600s to the 1800s, the Dutch transported some half a million Africans across the Atlantic.

"If the Netherlands are looking for a crime of genocide, they should look at the Khojaly massacre," he added.

'Unstained history'

Bahceli said there is no dark period in Turkish history which the nation has not owned up to.

"The genocide [allegation] is the occupation of ignoble people. The committer of genocides is the common name of Turkophobes. Our history is unstained and clean," he said.

Last week the Dutch parliament passed a motion backing the Armenian viewpoint on the 1915 events with 142 votes in favor; the Turkish-founded Denk Party opposed it with its three votes.

Turkish historians say the deaths in eastern Anatolia in 1915 occurred after some Armenians sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.

Ankara acknowledges there were casualties on both sides during World War I, and sees the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.

Terrorist extradition

Bahceli also said he was pleased with the arrest Saturday of former PYD/PKK co-leader Salih Muslim in the Czech capital Prague.

"This terrorist should definitely pay the price for his killings and betrayal," said Bahceli.

Bahceli called on the Czech government to fulfill Turkey's extradition request, saying: "They should extradite this terrorist to our country as soon as possible."

"One of the other issues that should be examined is how the same terrorist could freely travel in other European countries before he went to the Czech Republic."

Muslim is being sought on charges of disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state, homicide, attempted homicide, damaging public property, and transporting a hazardous substance.

Turkish officials have complained that EU member states and other countries often fail to honor its extradition requests.

The Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch is currently working to clear Afrin, northwestern Syria -- just across the Turkish border -- of PYD/YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists.


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