Armenia rejects Erdogan’s ‘condolences’ over genocide

Ha’aretz, Israel
April 25 2014

Armenia rejects Erdogan’s ‘condolences’ over genocide

Turkish leader’s words welcomed by Armenians at home, also by U.S. and
EU, but Armenian president says Erdogan ‘continues Turkey’s policy of
utter denial.’

By Haaretz

While Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won over many
Armenians at home with his “condolences” on the 99th anniversary of
the World War I mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire,
the president of Armenia was much less than impressed, AFP reported
Friday.

“The Armenian genocide . . . is alive as far as the successor of
Ottoman Turkey continues its policy of utter denial,” said President
Serzh Sarikisian. “The denial of a crime constitutes the direct
continuation of that very crime.”

The genocide of as many as 1.5 million Armenians was carried out by
Turkish Ottoman troops in 1915. Modern-day Turkey vehemently denies
this, claiming that the Armenians were among the victims of World War
I, not of genocide, and that the Ottoman Empire bore no guilt for
those deaths. Virtually all historians of those events say the Turkish
claim is refuted by massive evidence from the time, and that it
amounts to genocide denial. Erdogan did not veer from the traditional
Turkish line in his statement on Wednesday.

“The incidents of the first world war are our shared pain. … Millions
of people of all religions and ethnicities lost their lives in the
first world war,” he said.

Still, he went on to express the hope that Armenians as well as ethnic
Turks could “remember together their losses in a decent manner. And it
is with this hope and belief that we wish that the Armenians who lost
their lives in the context of the early 20th century rest in peace,
and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren.”

Orhan Dink, a Turkish Armenian whose brother, journalist Hrant Dink,
was assassinated in 2007 by ultra-nationalists for holding Turkey
responsible for the genocide, said: “For the prime minister of the
Turkish Republic to make such a statement is far-reaching for the
Armenians who live in Turkey, and for myself.”

The deputy of the Armenian patriarchal seat in Istanbul, Monsignor
Aram Atesyan, called Erdogan’s remarks “a moving historical statement,
which eased our pain.”

The United States, a close ally of Turkey which does not officially
recognize that a genocide was committed against the Armenians, or that
Turkey bears any historical responsibility for it, said via State
Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki: “We welcome Prime Minister Erdogan’s
historic public acknowledgment of the suffering that Armenians
experienced in 1915.”

The European Union called Erdogan’s statement “a positive message.”

Yet the reaction from the Armenian government in the capital Yerevan
noted that “in Erdogan’s statement there are the well known positions
of the Turkish propaganda. We actually expect something different from
Turkey.”

http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/.premium-1.587389

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