Ankara offers condolences to families of victims of 1915 events
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered condolences to the participants of the commemoration ceremony for the 1915 tragic events, which was held in the Armenian Church in Istanbul.
"It is Turkey’s conscientious and ethical responsibility to share the historical pain of our Armenian citizens,” read the statement at the Istanbul Armenian Church on the 103rd anniversary of the mass killing of Ottoman Armenians during World War I, posted on the official presidential website.
"We will continue to share your pain and try to resolve your problems in the future," Erdogan added.
Erdogan also expressed "condolences to the Turkish nation over loss of lives of millions of Ottoman citizens due to wars, migrations, conflicts and diseases during the same period."
The statement also called on the Armenian community to not allow those "who are trying to ignite hatred and hostility by distorting [our] shared past," Daily Sabah reported.
An associate professor of the Faculty of International Relations of the TOBB University of Economics and Technology (Ankara), Togrul Ismail, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, said that the 1915 events were tragic for all the peoples in Turkey. "The President of Turkey, expressing his condolences today, stressed that these tragic events occurred during the First World War, and now no one wants to repeat them, especially since there were mass killings of the Turkish population of the Ottoman Empire. The president expresses his condolences to prevent the political ambitions of Western countries and show that the opinion of those countries, which view these events as "the Armenian genocide," is inappropriate, since the Turkish state has long been ensured the safety of the Armenian population living in the republic," he noted.
"Armenians are full-fledged members of the Turkish state, they vote in presidential and parliamentary elections, they have an opportunity to receive a full-fledged education in the Armenian language. Virtually all political parties have Armenian deputies. There is an Armenian newspaper in Istanbul, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Armenian community of Istanbul is large, other large cities of Turkey also have Armenian communities. Many left for the Republic of Armenia, but now, on the contrary, there are many illegal migrants here. There is no such thing in Turkey as ethnic strife, there are no anti-Armenian sentiments, attempts of provocation on this issue have always come to nothing," Togrul Ismail drew attention.
Political scientist Orhan Gafarli, in turn, recalled that such condolences of the Turkish authorities to the Armenian citizens on April 24 are traditional. "This statement is aimed at showing that the 1915 events cannot be viewed in a one-sided perspective, because not only Armenians, but also Turks and other peoples were killed at that times. Ankara seeks to explain that Turkey does not deny the murder of Armenians, but it was not genocide, it was a massacre between ethnic groups, which affected not only Armenians, but Turks as well," he stressed.
The expert also noted that Armenians are full-fledged citizens of Turkey. "Armenians live in all Turkish regions, they freely realize the constitutional rights and freedoms of Turkish citizens, including religious freedoms, there is the Armenian Apostolic Church in the country. They are also free in doing politics and business. Armenian MPs work in the ruling Justice and Development Party and in all opposition parties. No state event is held without the participation of Armenian activists. Today in Turkey there are no signs of either anti-Armenian policy of the state or anti-Armenian moods in the society," Orhan Gafarli summed up.