Turkey FM in call to 'bury common pain' with Armenians
Saturday, May 03, 2014
LONDON - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has appealed for efforts to “reconstruct a better future for Turkish-Armenian relations” in his article published on British daily The Guardian on Friday.
Davutoglu’s plea comes after Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered condolences for the Armenian deaths that occurred during the incidents of 1915 - a first for a Turkish statesman.
The Turkish foreign minister touted Erdogan’s unprecedented message as a “courageous step,” urging both Turks and Armenians to “follow Erdogan’s lead and bury our common pain.”
"It is an undeniable fact that the Armenians suffered greatly in the same period. The consequences of the relocation of the large part of the Armenian community are unacceptable and inhuman,” Davutoglu said.
"What is also true is that the dispute over why and how the Armenian tragedy happened, sadly, continues to distress Turks and Armenians today," he said.
"Communal and national memories of a pain, suffering, deprivation and monumental loss of life continue to keep the Armenian and Turkish peoples apart. Competing and seemingly irreconcilable narratives on the 1915 events prevent the healing of this trauma. What we share is a "common pain" inherited from our grandparents.
“Offering condolences to the descendants of Ottoman Armenians with compassion and respect is a duty of humanity. An almost century-long confrontation has proved that we cannot solve the problem unless we start listening to and understanding each other. We must also learn to respect, without comparing sufferings and without categorizing them,” Davutoglu said.
"But we can only succeed if this endeavor is embraced by a wider constituency intent on reconciliation. Turkey stands ready."
Ahead of the anniversary of the incidents of 1915, which led to an unknown number of people dying in civil strife after the Ottoman Empire approved a deportation law for Armenians on April 24 of that year, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan said last week, "Regardless of their ethnic or religious origins, we pay tribute, with compassion and respect, to all Ottoman citizens who lost their lives in the incidents of 1915."
The message was welcomed by Armenian intellectuals and the Armenian Patriarchate in Turkey as a positive step, while some said it fell short of dealing with the issue.
The 1915 incidents took place during World War I, when a portion of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with invading Russians and rose up against the Ottoman authority. The uprisings were followed by a decision by the Ottoman-era officials to relocate the Armenians living in eastern Anatolia.
The Armenian diaspora and the state of Armenia term the incidents as "genocide" and ask for compensation, whereas Turkey says that, while Armenians died during the deportation, many Turks also died due to the attacks by Armenian gangs all across Anatolia.
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