Turkey says shares pain over Ottoman killings
Turkey on Monday sought to reach out to Armenians ahead of the 100th anniversary of the mass killings of their ancestors in the Ottoman Empire, saying it shared their pain and wanted to heal the wounds of the past.
The statement by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stopped well short of recognizing the World War I killings as a genocide — as Armenians want — but explicitly referred to deadly deportations of “Ottoman Armenians.”
“We once again respectfully remember and share the pain of grandchildren and children of Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives during deportation in 1915,” Davutoglu said in a statement released by his office to mark the centenary of the start of the tragedy on April 24.
Armenians consider the mass killings a genocide, a term Turkey has consistently rejected.
Davutoglu reiterated in the statement that Turkey did not accept the word genocide to describe the killings. “To reduce everything to a single word, to put responsibility through generalizations on the Turkish nation alone ... is legally and morally problematic,” he said.
He added it was possible to define why the events of the First World War happened and who was responsible.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara that there had been “no disgrace of genocide” in Turkish history.
“We are certain about ourselves and stand behind our thesis about the 1915 incidents,” said Arinc, the cabinet spokesman, quoted by the official Anatolia news agency.
But the relatively conciliatory tone of Davutoglu’s statement contrasted with the furious reaction from Ankara early this month when Pope Francis used the term genocide to describe the killings.