Turkish PM Erdogan offers unprecedented condolences for Armenian killings
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan offered what the government said were unprecedented condolences today to the grandchildren of Armenians killed in World War One by Ottoman soldiers.
On the eve of the 99th anniversary of the deeply contested deaths, Erdogan said: "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."
Erdogan unexpectedly described the events of 1915 as "inhumane", using more conciliatory language than has often been the case for Turkish leaders.
"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," Erdogan said.
Turkish government officials said it was the first time a Turkish prime minister had offered such explicit condolences and described the statement as a historic step, but Erdogan's words were dismissed as "cold-hearted and cynical" by an influential U.S.-based Armenian advocacy group.
The exact nature and scale of what happened during fighting that started in 1915 is highly contentious and continues to sour relations between Turkey and Armenia, a former Soviet republic.
Turkey accepts that many Armenians died in clashes, but denies that up to 1.5 million were killed and that this constituted an act of genocide - a term used by many Western historians and foreign parliaments.
COMMEMORATIVE EVENTS IN ARGENTINA
In the 99th anniversary of the killings, a series of commemorative events will be held tomorrow in Buenos Aires City by the Armenian community in Argentina.
“99 years after the first genocide of the 20th Century, Turkey continues to deny its responsability,” an ad published today in local newspaper read.
A mass at the Armenian Cathedral at 11 a.m. tomorrow will be followed by a commemorative act at the Armenian Center.
At 7 p.m. protesters will meet in front of Buenos Aires University Law School and then march to the official resident of Turkish ambassador.