Armenia, Turkey Continue RSVP-Fight
Not being invited to a big occasion usually causes bad blood, but, in Turkey and Armenia’s case, it was actually mutual invitations that started the trouble. After trading invites to anniversaries of two major historic events, the two countries’ leaders are waging a war of letters larded with testy remarks and history lessons.
Armenia on February 2 described as a “petty trick” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s invitation to President Serzh Sargsyan to attend Turkey’s April 23-24 centennial commemoration of the Battle of Gallipoli, a critical World-War-I campaign in which Ottoman Turkey repulsed an Allied invasion. The invitation is “amoral” and runs counter to all norms of protocol, declared Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian.
Sargsyan earlier had invited Erdoğan to come to Yerevan on the same date to attend Armenia’s commemoration of Ottoman Turkey’s 1915-16 slaughter of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians; deaths it condemns as genocide.
As Yerevan no doubt knew, the chances were less than remote that the increasingly sultanesque Erdoğan would shuttle on over to see Turkey’s Ottoman forbearers condemned for genocide.
His response was to ask Sargsyan to attend the Gallipoli memorial.
But Sargsyan, a chess-player who knows an attempted checkmate when he sees one, angrily threw out the counter-invitation and accused Erdoğan’s administration of deliberately timing Turkey’s battle-centennial to overshadow Armenia’s genocide-centennial.
In an open letter to Erdoğan, the Armenian president wrote that it’s not an Armenian custom to accept an invitation from someone who has not yet responded to an invitation from the intended guest.
Batting the ball back, Erdogan’s office sniped in a lengthy invective.that Armenia apparently cannot “appreciate Turkey’s sincere steps.”
And so the rhetoric is likely to continue. While this exchange may sound familiar, it again underlines that earlier attempts at reconciliation have fallen flat and that, historic opportunity or no, the neighbors are back to square one.