February 11, 2019 - 10:46 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A far-right Turkish politician wants his government to expel tens of thousands of Armenian nationals residing in Turkey in retaliation against France for declaring a remembrance day for victims of the Armenian Genocide, Eurasianet.org says in an article.
President Emmanuel Macron said last week France would mark April 24 as a "national day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide.” Turkey’s government, which denies the genocide, has vigorously condemned the decision.
Researchers estimate between 10,000 and 30,000 Armenian nationals are in Turkey, many of whom have overstayed tourist visas after finding work there. They often face greater scrutiny when foreign governments pressure Turkey to formally recognize the Genocide.
“There are 100,000 Armenians here who came from Armenia and are illegally filling their stomachs. I’m saying we should expel them. Why are we letting them stay? While they lobby against Turkey, we continue to feed them,” Mustafa Destici, who leads the small Great Unity Party (BBP), said at a campaign rally on February 7.
It was not clear where Destici came up with a figure of 100,000 nor what “lobbying” efforts Armenian labor migrants living in Turkey could have conducted to persuade Macron. It is not the first time Destici has used the number, or threatened to expel Armenian citizens from Turkey; he made a similar demand in 2015. In 2017, he called on Russia to abandon its military alliance with Armenia.
Destici’s hardline party only receives a few hundred thousand votes in Turkish elections but retains an outsized influence at a time of heightened nationalism in Turkey. In June, the BBP joined President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s electoral alliance, along with a larger right-wing group, in parliamentary and presidential polls, earning one seat in parliament.