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Turkey says shares pain over 1915 Armenian killings

21.04.2015  |  13:43
Turkey says shares pain over 1915 Armenian killings

The Turkish government says Ankara shares Armenians' pain over the 1915 killings of their ancestors during the Ottoman era in Turkey

The Turkish government says Ankara shares Armenians' pain over the 1915 killings of their ancestors during the Ottoman era in Turkey.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made the comments in a statement released on Monday ahead of the 100th anniversary of the massacre.

"We once again respectfully remember and share the pain of grandchildren and children of Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives during deportation in 1915," said Davutoglu.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians were systematically slaughtered in eastern Turkey through mass killings, forced relocations and starvation- a process that began in 1915 and took place over several years during the World War I and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

However, Ankara refuses to describe the massacre as "genocide" and says 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks perished between 1915 and 1917, and they were the casualties of World War I.

The Turkish prime minister reiterated that his country does not accept that the massacre should be defined as a genocide, saying "to reduce everything to a single word, to put responsibility through generalizations on the Turkish nation alone... is legally and morally problematic."

Davutoglu said all Ottoman citizens suffered during that time and demanded that "human bonds" forged during centuries of coexistence in Anatolia, located in today's eastern Turkey, be re-established between Turks and Armenians.

"During the last years of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman citizens who for centuries had lived together in peace and fraternity suffered great torments," said Davutoglu.

In addition, the prime minister warned "third parties" against reopening "historical wounds," saying measures should be taken for a peaceful future based on "fair memory."

On April 17, Davutoglu censured the European Parliament over the adoption of a resolution which urges Ankara to acknowledge its historic responsibility for the massacre of Armenians during World War I, and pave the way for "a genuine reconciliation" with Yerevan.

Davutoglu argued that such a statement took no notice of the suffering of Muslim Turks at the time, and ran the risk of fomenting hatred towards other non-Christian religious groups.

"This issue is now beyond the Turkish-Armenian issue. It's a new reflection of the racism in Europe," Davutoglu said at the time.

A number of countries - namely Armenia, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Russia and Uruguay - have formally recognized the incident as "genocide."

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