Erdoğan says Armenians were nomads when deported by Ottomans in 1915

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that Armenians had been living as nomads when the Ottoman Empire started their mass deportation from Anatolia in 1915, the Voice of America reported.

Erdoğan, who met U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday at the White House, visited the Washington centre of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affair (Diyanet) later in the day.

The Washington visit of Erdoğan came after the U.S. House of Representatives last month voted in favour of a resolution that formally recognised the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire a century ago as genocide. 

Erdoğan said in his speech at the Diyanet centre that he had hoped the U.S. Senate would not follow the House’s move to recognise the Armenian genocide. 

“For us, it is null and void. Those who want to put pressure on us by such decisions will eventually understand that they are wrong,” he said about efforts in the U.S. Congress.

“They used to travel in different places as nomads. The forced deportation took place while they were living the same way as nomads in Turkey,” Erdoğan said about the history of Armenians.

The first Armenian state dates back to Orontid dynasty, which ruled parts of today’s eastern Turkey in the 6th century BC. 

In antiquity and the Middle Ages the area was ruled by a succession of Armenian dynasties, but the Armenian political independence was largely brought to an end by a wave of invasions and migrations by Turkic-speaking peoples beginning in the 11th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were about 2.5 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire, mostly concentrated in the six provinces of eastern Anatolia.