Armenia’s Sargsyan rejects invitation to Gallipoli centenary

Armenia’s Sargsyan rejects invitation to Gallipoli centenary

Armenia’s Sargsyan rejects invitation to Gallipoli centenary

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has rebuffed an invitation by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to ceremonies marking the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli in Çanakkale in late April, which coincides with the Armenian remembrance day. 

With plans to hold massive ceremonies to mark the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli on April 23 and 24, Erdoğan had sent out invitations to the leaders of 102 countries, including Armenian President Sargsyan and U.S. President Barack Obama.   

In a letter addressed to Erdoğan, Sargsyan recalled an invitation handed to Erdoğan for the events to be held to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1915 mass killing of Armenians, considered as “genocide” by Armenia.

“Your Excellency, a few months ago, I invited you to visit Yerevan on April 24, 2015 to honor memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide together,” Sargsyan said in the letter. “We have no tradition of visiting a guest without receiving a response to our own invitation.”

Sargsyan also ciriticized Turkey’s “traditional policy of denial,” while also questioning the timing of the Gallipoli event. 

“The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli for the first time this year falls on 24 April, in the case when it started on March 18, 1915 and continued till the end of January 1916,” wrote the Armenian president. 

“Meanwhile, the operation of the Allies started on 25 April. What purpose is pursued, if not to divert world attention from the activities marking centennial of the Armenian Genocide? Prior to initiating commemoration events, Turkey had much more important responsibility towards their people and all mankind – recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide,” he said.

The ANZAC Troops (Australia-New Zealand Army Corps) disembarked onto the shores of Çanakkkale on April 25, 1915 in a bid to destroy Turkish artillery units, but were defeated in bloody combat that continued until December 1915. Ever since, Australians and New Zealanders have commemorated the Battle of Gallipoli on April 25, on the date of the first landing, and on Aug 6 to Aug 10, the second landing of the ANZAC troops.   

Marking the 100th anniversary of the battle for Turkey, Australia and New Zealand, the Turkish government is set to organize ceremonies with the participation of 8,500 Australians and 2,000 New Zealanders. The U.K.’s Prince Charles and his two sons, and the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand, are expected to take part in commemorations. 

A day before the April 24 ceremonies in Çanakkale, the government is planning to host a reception and a “Summit of Peace” in Istanbul on April 23, the day when Turkey marks the 95th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Parliament. 

April 24, 1915 is also the date of the Ottoman government’s signing the Deportation Law that led to the deaths of up to a million Armenians in their long march south from eastern Anatolia. Armenia and the Armenian diaspora mark the day as the “anniversary of genocide” committed by the Ottoman Empire, and are planning to hold massive ceremonies on the centenary of the mass killings of their ancestors. Sargsyan has invited world leaders to Yerevan on the same day.