Editorial: Ricciardone’s Denial Makes Turkish Diplomats’ Pale in Comparison

Some statements are so blatantly false and malicious that it’s often not worth dignifying them with a response or refutation—unless they’re from the ambassador of the world superpower regarding a country that itself stands as a regional powerhouse.

Ricciardone's statement constitutes an affront to the memory and legacy of millions of Christians who perished in Ottoman Turkey in the first two decades of the 20thcentury.

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone’s response to a question posed by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) this week is a case in point. Menendez asked, “To the best of your knowledge, approximately how many of the more than 2,000 Christian churches functioning prior to 1915 on the territory of present-day Turkey are still operating today as churches?” Ricciardone responded, “Most of the Christian churches functioning prior to 1915 are still operating as churches.”

Let’s look at some numbers. Right before the genocide in 1915, there were upwards of 3,000 Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian churches in Ottoman territories that are today part of Turkey. Maghakia Ormanian, who was the Armenian patriarch in Istanbul from 1896 to 1908, listed more than 2,000 churches in his monumental book The Church of Armenia. The Armenian Weekly recently published a list of Armenian churches by town, based on Turkish and Armenian Patriarchate sources.

Today, only a few dozen churches operate in Turkey, which include only 34 Armenian churches, mostly in Istanbul.

If we dismiss utter ignorance as an explanation, the alternative is not very flattering: It is covering up the crimes of the genocides of the Christians in Ottoman Turkey and their continued dispossession in the Republic of Turkey in the decades following its establishment—and that, with a strain of blatant denial that no Turkish diplomat would adopt.

It runs counter to the very definition of a diplomat to make profoundly insulting comments. But in the ones that have been made by diplomats throughout history, Ricciardone’s is a serious contender for the cake. Not only is his statement utterly false, it constitutes an affront to the memory and legacy of millions of Christians who perished in Ottoman Turkey in the first two decades of the 20th century.

Ricciardone was initially sent to Ankara by President Obama on a “recess” appointment because his approval by the Senate was blocked over concerns that, in his previous Cairo posting, he had quickly adopted the positions and arguments of his Egyptian diplomatic counterparts. He has shown, once again, that he is far too eager to please his hosts, at the cost of U.S. interests and American values. By his own actions, he has disqualified himself from this post. The president should immediately withdraw this failed nomination. Should the Ricciardone nomination proceed, the U.S. Senate should block its confirmation.

14 Comments on Editorial: Ricciardone’s Denial Makes Turkish Diplomats’ Pale in Comparison

  1. So are we Armenians that voted for and believed Obama before the 2008 election going to vote for him again when he certainly will lie to us before the next presidential election?

  2. No WAY, vote for that lier again !If he comes back to any Armenian gathering…politeness will be out the door and he will hear  LOUD  BOOOOOS!and if any Armenian votes for him he/she is dumber than dumb jackass!NEVER AGAIN NEVER !!

  3. Arius, when we vote next year, perhaps we should not base our choice of president on as so trivial issue as whether the leader of our country decides to use a word or not. As an American, I for one am more concerned about our foreign policy and economy than whether Mr. Obama decides to make Armenians feel good with his pithy comments.

  4. avatar Kevork Derderian // August 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm // Reply

    I don’t think it really matters who we vote for in 2012, The outcome is always the same. We should forget about these unworthy politicians, They lie over & over.

  5. This guy is appalling. Given that he has lived for several years in Turkey and is reported to speak Turkish, it seems very unlikely that he is ignorant of the situation in Turkey. It is hard to believe that he is not deliberately lying. The US Ambassador to Turkey is not supposed to be nothing but a mouthpiece for the Turkish government.

  6. Riccardione is a bigger liar than Erdogan.

  7. Truth hurts?

  8. Mr. Ricciardone’s Alice In Wonderland responses and his characteristic sloppiness with the truth betray not so much ignorance as the arrogance of a state department underling who knows he is delivering exactly what his superiors want and will be given full support in his mockery of the truth. A very sad comment on the mentality of our political elite.

  9. Arius, it was either an Obama, whom we believed – who lied to us… OR a McCain who – up front – expressed disinterest in GENOCIDES and too, in our hopes for his recognition of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation…  Hopefully, this next election the candidates are morally honest… not politically dishonest. Next time voting… hopefully candidates take an interest in ending the cycle of Genocides – and bringing those guilty of Genocides to face their crimes against ALL HUMANITY! Wouldn’t it be great if we had an Armenian American candidate?

  10.  Politics aside it is embarrassing and insulting to hear a comment such as this. Regardless of the intent, it is simply a ridiculous statement. A casual observer of the eastern provinces of Anatolia can understand that the pre-1915 state of Christian churches is very different because of the systematic purge of the Christian Armenian, Greek and Assyrian population.
                Murat, I won’t dignify your sarcastic ignorance with a response.
          Despite the frustration, remember one thing. When it is no longer in U.S. interests to protect the image of Turkey, the perception of the issues coming out of the State Department will change also. All position either directly or indirectly are based on supporting Turkey.
          The day of change is approaching as Turkey moves slowly towards the Islamic right. Look at the signs. Erdogan consolidates his institutional power by neutralizing the military. We naively look at this as a progressive move of a democratic republic. Remember that the military has been the power behind maintaining a secular state. So which way do you think Turkey is heading and what do you think the State Department thinks about that? Be patient dear Armenian people and be ready when the opportunities appear.

  11. What were our choices…. Obama, lied and said he’d recognize the Turk Genocide of the Armenians AND McCain stated he was not not interested in the issue of Genocide…

  12. As an American, thus the issue of Genocides continues… no efforts to end Genoicdes.

  13. The Turkish efforts via their Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation was obviously their determination to move towards the elimination of Christian Armenians for Turks need of lands.
    Ottomans then, and subsequent leaderships into today – their goals – obvious… Elimination of the Armenian peoples from their own highly developed homeland of nearly 4,000 years over generations, – then to steal all that was of the Armenians and claim to belong to Turks. Over the years a continuation of their  a steadfast policy of eliminations not only of the ancient and historic Armenian peoples –  the Turk policy of again, eliminating sites outstanding for their antiquity – Armenian Christian cathedrals and churches were deliberately allowed to fall to ruination… But to distract the world’s leaderships… a very few remaining sites have become as museums for the muslim Turks…. IMAGINE, Turks thus allowing Christian worship in these Armenian sites of the ARMENIAN CHRISTIAN RELIGIOn – ONCE YEARLY – ONLY!!(A great show to the civilized nations of the world… of the generosity of the muslim Turks)!
    Turks (and their allies) excell in their denials of Genocides which they can pursue today… Turks and their allies, today, ignore and continue in their pursuit of eliminating any and all whom they determine are not of the muslim Turk. Thus, the muslim Turks winners… thus Victims/losers!!
    And of course, the moslem religious site in the financial district of the New York city now becomes as an IN YOUR FACE TO THE THE CITIZENS OF THE USA… there are many of the muslim Turk sites spread across USA.  Think, how many Christian sites (non-muslim) are constructed in their lands of the muslim Turks?  But, Turk goals include that they shall be only a Turkey for Turks…ONLY!

  14. Does the Congresswoman Schmidt issue – acceptance of the ONE HALF MIILIONS DOLLARS given to her… but she says she never received – monies went to her attorney – and that these monies shall be RETURNED TO THE TURKEYS – WHO HAVE BREACHED OUR OWN NATIONS CONGRESSIONAL ESTABLISHMENT!!  
    Does it ever appear in the world news? the USA national medias?
    OR is this issue to be hidden – benefitting whom – the Congresswoman or the Turkeys??  Where had journalism gone… politically, morally??

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