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Lebanon Summons Turkish Envoy in Spat with Aoun over Ottoman Atrocities

Lebanon Summons Turkish Envoy in Spat with Aoun over Ottoman Atrocities

Tuesday, 3 September, 2019 - 08:15
A night view of Beirut, Lebanon. (Reuters)

Lebanon summoned on Tuesday the Turkish ambassador in Beirut to clarify remarks by Ankara about recent statements by President Michel Aoun.

The Foreign Ministry said Hakan Cakil was summoned over a statement on Sunday that included “terms and rhetoric that does not adhere to diplomatic norms and the historic relations between the two countries and Lebanese and Turkish people.”

On Monday, Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry strongly denounced the Turkish response to a recent speech by Aoun, in which he spoke of violence and killing during the Ottoman occupation of what is now modern-day Lebanon.

“It is important for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants to emphasize that addressing His Excellency, the President of the Republic in this manner is unacceptable and denounced, whereby the Turkish Foreign Ministry ought to correct the error, especially since Turkish-Lebanese relations are deeper and greater than an exaggerated, out-of-place reaction,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

In a speech celebrating the centennial of the formation of Greater Lebanon Saturday, Aoun had recalled the “state terror practiced by the Ottomans against the Lebanese, especially during World War I.”

He noted that this had led to “hundreds of thousands of victims of famine, conscription and forced labor.”

In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry described Aoun’s statements as “baseless and biased.” It also denied the alleged use of state terror by the Ottoman Empire in Lebanon.

“This extremely unfortunate and irresponsible statement by President Aoun made only a week after the visit of Mevlut Cavusoglu, foreign affairs minister, to Lebanon, does not comply with the friendly relations between the two countries,” the Turkish statement added.

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry affirmed that “the President’s speech included a factual narrative of some of the historical events that Lebanon faced under the Ottoman rule, and which were overcome by the Turkish and Lebanese peoples, who are looking forward to the best political and economic bilateral relations in the future.”

“What brings the two countries together is far more than what divides them, and the common challenges require mutual work, not division,” the ministry emphasized.

It said it “will follow up on the required measures to correct the error in diplomatic terms and prevent any damage to relations between the two countries.”

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