Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan offered what the government described as unprecedented “condolences” for the killing of Armenians in the First World War. The “apology” however is likely to be viewed as manifestly inadequate for those who have long demanded that Turkey acknowledge the killings as “genocide.” There remains a sharp historical debate over the killings though countries like France tried to end that debate by criminalizing arguments that this was not a genocide. The overwhelming world opinion however is that this was genocide and that Turkey continues to offer a revisionist history to its students and citizens. This statement comes as the country approaches the 100th anniversary of the killings next year. Turkey continues to deny that 1.5 million people were killed in 1915.
Erdogan expressed regret over the “shared pain” of the 1915 killings — something that is likely to be viewed by Armenians as falsely equating the level of injury between those who killed innocent civilians and the survivors of those victims. Various countries have labeled the deaths as genocide.
Erdogan said “[i]t 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 . . Having experienced events which had inhumane consequences – such as relocation – during the First World War, should not prevent Turks and Armenians from establishing compassion and mutually humane attitudes among towards one another.” However, he appeared to suggest that Turkey, a Muslim country, is being unfairly treated for the deaths of Armenians who are Christian. He insisted that “[u]sing the events of 1915 as an excuse for hostility against Turkey and turning this issue into a matter of political conflict is inadmissible.”
It is interesting to see how Turkey views these remarks as a breakthrough and unprecedented. I cannot imagine that Armenians will share that view.
Source: Globe and Mail