Germany’s Gauck: Turkey’s condolences to Armenians ‘a new page’
Germany's President Joachim Gauck addresses the media at the Presidential Palace in Ankara April 28, 2014. REUTERS PhotoWhile urging Turkey to be bolder in its attempt to face its history, German President Joachim Gauck has backed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s extension of condolences to the grandchildren of Armenians killed in World War I by Ottoman soldiers.
“In my opinion, the expression of a new style by a conservative politician like Mr. Prime Minister is a new page. This sounds very interesting, familiar and right to me,” Gauck said on April 28 in response to a question at a joint press conference following talks with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül.
“Can a self-confident society question itself and feel honored with its past or can it implement a symbolic peace-making policy? That’s why I believe no censorship should be applied when choosing words here,” Gauck said in remarks translated from German to Turkish through an interpreter.
In a statement issued on April 23, the eve of the 99th anniversary of the contested cause of the deaths, Erdoğan unexpectedly described the events of 1915 as “inhumane,” using more conciliatory language than has often been the case for Turkish leaders.
For his part, Gül said on many occasions in the past that he had described what was lived during that era as “common grievances,” and called Erdoğan’s statement “extremely appropriate and right.”