UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS OF PRESIDENT ERDOGAN</p> <p>By Gozde Bayar</p> <p>ANKARA (AA) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey's ruling party had succeeded in local elections held last month.</p> <p>“Every election is an exam, struggle and an opportunity for assessment. We substantially succeeded in the March 31 local elections,” said Erdogan, addressing a gathering of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in capital Ankara.</p> <p>He noted that the AK Party got 44.4% of the votes which is the second highest rate of their party in terms of local elections to date.</p> <p>He called the mayoral elections of Istanbul questionable, adding: “All doubts must be eliminated so that the people feel relieved.”</p> <p>He also referred to the documents which showed that there was a very serious organized set up in Istanbul polls.</p> <p>Recalling the opposition party's concerns over objections to Istanbul poll results, Erdogan termed the situation “tragicomic” as the party has the right to challenge the results according to the electoral law.</p> <p>Millions of Turkish voters cast their votes nationwide on March 31 in local elections to choose mayors, city council members, and other officials for the next five years.</p> <p>Ekrem Imamoglu, of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), took oath as mayor of Istanbul earlier this month, amid AK Party's agitation over voting irregularities.</p> <p>Erdogan refuted rumors that the AK Party had given up hope on the Istanbul results, stating that the party will continue its legal struggle.</p> <p><br>
- Armenian issue
Reiterating that his party and coalition partners had paved the way to reach a common ground in Turkey, he invited all Turkish citizens, who had not sold their hearts and minds to external powers and terrorists, to join their alliance.
He insisted that there is no polarization in Turkey with the exception of one entity which supports terrorist organization.
Speaking about the events of 1915, he said the Armenian relocation was neither a genocide, nor a great disaster, which took place under troublesome conditions a century ago.
“Millions of Armenians would not be living across Europe, U.S., North Africa, Caucasus, if allegations against us were true,” Erdogan added.
Noting that parliaments of the countries are not suitable places to seek truth, he said historians and scientists should check the archives.
He also criticized French President Emmanuel Macron for declaring April 24 as a day to mark the so-called Armenian genocide.
Erdogan named several communities which were exposed to “real genocide” including millions of Muslims in Palestine, Myanmar and Bosnia, and Jews in Europe.
Turkey's position on the events of 1915 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.
Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as “genocide ” but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.
– Iraq, Syria, Russia
Erdogan said the legitimacy of Turkish measures taken against terror threats in Iraq and Syria is indisputable.
Speaking about recent differences with the U.S., he said: “We will continue taking steps to clear terror swamps in Syria and procure S-400 and similar security entrenchments.”
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400 system.
U.S. officials have objected to the deal, claiming that the S-400 would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose U.S. F-35 fighter jets — which Turkey also has a deal to buy — to possible Russian subterfuge.