'Amen,' says Armenian Patriarchate over PM’s 1915 message
The patriarchate said the message from the prime minister provides a 'cornerstone for a bridge between the Turkish and Armenian communities.' AFP PhotoTurkey’s Armenian Patriarchate has welcomed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s message on the Armenian issue, saying “amen” to his wish of condolences to the descendants of the Armenians.
In a statement, the patriarchate said the message from the prime minister provides a “cornerstone for a bridge between the Turkish and Armenian communities.” It said the message could turn a new page in Turkish-Armenian ties, and with regard to Muslim and non-Muslim Ottoman citizens’ bitter memories from World War I.
In one part of his message, Erdoğan had stated: “Millions of people of all religions and ethnicities lost their lives in World War I. Having experienced events that had inhumane consequences – such as relocation – during World War I, should not prevent Turks and Armenians from establishing compassion and mutually humane attitudes between each another.”
The Armenian Patriarchate said the message had the characteristics of encouraging both communities in taking positive steps. “We said ‘amen’ to the prime minister’s wish for resting in peace to the Armenians who lost their lives and accept the condolences with love,” the statement said.
On the other hand, Armenian President Serzh Sargsian yesterday accused Turkey of “utter denial” in failing to recognize the World War I mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
In a statement marking the 99th anniversary of the start of the killings and mass deportations, Sargsian made no acknowledgement of Erdoğan’s move and instead accused Turkey of continuing to ignore the facts.
“The Armenian genocide ... is alive as far as the successor of Ottoman Turkey continues its policy of utter denial. The denial of a crime constitutes the direct continuation of that very crime. Only recognition and condemnation can prevent the repetition of such crimes in the future,” he said.
He said the looming 100th anniversary offered “Turkey a good chance to repent and set aside the historical stigma in case they make efforts to set free their state’s future from this heavy burden.”
However, Sargisian also stressed that the events of 1915 “should not prevent Turks and Armenians from establishing compassion and mutually humane attitudes towards one another.”
Armenian Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan urged Turkey to recognize the genocide. “Our task is not only to restore our rights, but also to prevent a recurrence of such crimes.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington welcomed Erdoğan’s “historic public acknowledgement of the suffering that Armenians experienced in 1915.”
Yesterday was a day of national mourning in Armenia and requiem masses were held in churches across the country, marking the 99th anniversary of the massacres.
All national television channels ran live broadcasts of the annual ceremony, which saw thousands of Armenians gathering at a hilltop memorial above Yerevan to lay flowers at the eternal flame.