Turkish nation 'shares pain' of Armenians, says Erdogan

Lester Mason
April 24, 2018

Turkey has a responsibility to share the pain of Armenian citizens over the "1915 events", according to a statement signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and read at an Armenian memorial held in Istanbul on April 24.

The annual commemoration marks the deaths of Armenians who died in eastern Anatolia in the early years of World War I, when the Committee of Union and Progess (CUP) government decided for deportation of Armenians to Syria when some sided with the invading Russians and revolted.

Erdogan said Armenians "lost their lives during the fierce and harsh conditions of the First World War" drawing a comparison "with millions of Ottoman citizens we lost due to contagious diseases, migration, war and clashes during the same period".

In contrast with the stance of Armenia, its diaspora and numerous other countries, Ankara does not recognize the 1915 killings as "genocide", emphasizing that there were casualties "on both sides".

For more than 100 years April 24 has been a day of unity, remembrance and mourning, a day of fight against the injustice committed by Turkey and against today's policy of denial.

Opposition supporters were celebrating the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan on Monday after days of anti-government protests. "We will continue to share your pain and try to resolve your problems in the future", the statement said.

The government then agreed to send a minister to the commemoration of the Armenian genocide in Yerevan, in line with parliament's wishes, without formally recognising the genocide as such. President Donald Trump last year continued that tradition in his first year in office, issuing a statement denouncing the deaths as "one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th Century" but failing to use the term "genocide".

Turkey has declined to recognise Armenia's claims and has angrily reacted to any such moves by its allies.

The dispute has been a persistent barrier to establishing diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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