Nice try, but, no, your condolences were not accepted, said Yerevan after Ankara expressed commiseration on the April 24 anniversary of Ottoman Turkey's 1915 slaughter of thousands of ethnic Armenians.
In what Washington praised as an “historic” move, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered words of consolation to the “grandchildren” of the victims of the World-War I-era massacre, describing the events of that period as “a shared pain” for both Turks and Armenians. He added, however, that other peoples, including Turks, also endured brutalities during that time.
The comment was the closest Ankara has come to recognising the slaughter.
But Yerevan was having none of it. The statement was merely “another, perhaps a little more sophisticated way, of concealing and denying the genocide of the Armenians,” said Vigen Sarkisian, spokesperson for Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.
Ethnic Armenians in Turkey seem to have displayed some appreciation for Erdoğan’s words, but Yerevan described them as putting “killers and victims” on the same footing. It repeated that Turkey needs to own up to its Ottoman predecessors having committed genocide against ethnic Armenians.
Erdoğan called on Armenia to leave the past behind it and move on, but Yerevan believes that recognizing that past is the best way for Turkey to do the same.
“What is required of Turkey is to accept its history and unequivocally condemn the crimes that took place,” Sarkisian said, RFE/RL reported. “In Christianity, we call this repentance. I am sure there are equivalents of this concept in other religions,” he added.
The head of Armenia’s Lebanon-based Apostolic Church, Catholicos Aram I, however, responded harshly to Erdoğan, saying that it was the prime minister's ancestors who had committed the massacre.
Many analysts both in Armenia and Turkey, put the prime minister's comments down to Erdoğan's attempts to improve his international image, badly battered after a harsh response to protests in 2013 and ongoing scandals over corruption and other alleged abuses of government powers. He is expected to run for president in elections slotted for August this year.