Turkey on Wednesday commemorated the Ottoman Armenians who died during the course of World War I.
“With respect I commemorate the Ottoman Armenians who died in hard conditions during World War I,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a letter on Wednesday to Archbishop Aram Atesyan, general vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey.
Erdogan said that peace, security, and happiness of Turkey’s Armenian community are greatly important for Turkey.
Offering his condolences to the descendants of Ottoman Armenians who died in the war, Erdogan stated that the Armenian community has raised many valuable young people to contribute to Turkey’s well-being.
He said that as free and equal citizens in Turkey, Armenian people have important roles in the country’s social, political, and business life.
Erdogan said that Turkey aims to cement ties between ethnic Turks and Armenians, who have shared mutual pains and joy in history.
He stated that Turkey will continue to stand by Armenians to relieve their pains and solve their problems.
“I believe the way to build a joint future can only be done by standing united and together,” Erdogan said.
He warned Armenians against circles who want to poison this shared past by sowing hatred and hostility.
Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey objects to the presentation of these incidents as a “genocide,” describing them as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia as well as international experts to tackle the issue.