Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized Western countries for their interference, saying that the shameful chapters of countries like Canada and those in Europe that attempt to lecture Turkey on human rights, democracy and freedoms have been exposed one by one.
Speaking at the Turkey Youth Summit at the Beştepe National Congress and Culture Center in Ankara, Erdoğan referred to the Srebrenica genocide and remembered its victims.
“As the late Aliya said, a forgotten genocide is repeated,” Erdoğan said, adding that while Western countries accuse Turkey of genocide, their own shameful pasts haunt them.
The president was referring to the recognition of 1915 events as genocide by some Western countries and their hostility against Turkey.
Turkey objects to presenting the 1915 incidents as “genocide,” rather calling them a tragedy in which both Turks and Armenians suffered casualties in the heat of World War I. Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia under the supervision of international experts to examine the issue.
Turkey's position on the 1915 events is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties, made worse by massacres conducted by militaries and militia groups from both sides. The mass arrests of prominent Ottoman Armenian politicians, intellectuals and other community members suspected of links with separatist groups, harboring nationalist sentiments and being hostile to the Ottoman rule were rounded up in then-capital Istanbul on April 24, 1915. The date is commemorated as the beginning of later atrocities.
Canada has recently come under fire after the discovery of Indigenous children's bones in mass graves in residential schools. U.N. human rights experts urged Ottawa and the Vatican to conduct a full and prompt investigation into the discovery. However, Pope Francis fell short of offering the apology sought by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also criticized certain media outlets and opposition members for trying to define and label the youth, rather than trying to understand the younger generation.“Their narrow description stigmatizes millions of youth,” Erdoğan said, adding that nobody has the right to label the youth when speaking about the demographic.
Erdoğan also noted that to win the hearts of young people, politicians need to listen to them and empathize with them. Erdoğan referred to Turkey’s Youth 2020 survey as guiding information, saying it proves that young people have a more correct sense of life, their country and the world.
“I am hopeful about you. You will construct our country’s future and revive it in a different way,” Erdoğan said, emphasizing that countries that embrace their youth look to their future with more confidence.
The president continued by calling on the youth to not let agitators steal their dreams or discourage them. He also noted that Turkey will not let anyone exploit youth for their dirty plots. “For the past 19 years, we have not let anyone exploit youth for their benefits, and we will not let them,” he said.
Erdoğan also called on his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) members to pay close attention to the youth and listen to their problems. “We hold the responsibility for each and every single young person that we do not reach out to for whatever reason,” Erdoğan said.
Understanding Generation Z is a major concern for the older generations, particularly for the politicians who want to attract their votes. Turkish youth realize their value and break the “apolitical” stereotype by pointing to solid criteria on their voting preference – from socioeconomic equality to honest rhetoric.
Recent studies show that Generation Z has unique ideas and attitudes on many political issues. First of all, they are more tolerant and progressive in matters based on religion, gender identity and ethnicity compared to the generations they follow. This indicates that it will be difficult for the politics carried out in the axis of nationalism and religiosity, which have been successful in the past, to find the expected response in the future. For example, Konda Research and Consultancy General Manager Bekir Ağırdır, in a recent interview, stated that the youth of Generation Z show interest in parties at the far ends of the political spectrum rather than the central parties. It is possible to define this as a revolt against the family or the established system in a way that coincides with the nature of the youth, and it can also be interpreted as a more flexible and modular structure where young people can have an impact on these parties.
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