February 4, 2011 By

Armenian Genocide: Turkey Offers Condolences

turkeyTurkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered condolences on Wednesday to the families of Armenians who were massacred under the ottoman rule during the First World War. It’s the first time a Turkish leader has formally offered condolences for the mass murder. His statements came on the eve of the 99th anniversary of the mass deportation of Armenians in 1915, calling the genocide as “inhumane”.

Erdogan described the incidents of World War I as “our shared pain” in a statement that was translated into nine languages including Armenian. He said that “millions of people of all religions and ethnicities lost their lives in the First World War” and that it was “inadmissible” for Armenia to use the 1915 incidents “as an excuse for hostility against Turkey” and to turn the issue “into a matter of political conflict”. Erdogan also repeated turkey’s calls to set up a joint historical commission to study the 1915 events surrounding the killings. Armenia has denied the request until now.

The Armenian Genocide also known as the Armenian Holocaust, traditionally was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland in the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. It took place during and after World War I and was implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and forced labor, and the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches to the Syrian Desert.

Despite Armenia’s urging to recognize the mass killings as “genocide”, turkey had refused to use the term justifying that the killings were not deliberate or governmentally orchestrated but that they died of starvation and fighting. The Armenians also posed a Russian-sympathizing threat as a cultural group.

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