Turkey has a responsibility to share the pain of Armenian citizens over the “1915 events,” according to a statement signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and read at an Armenian memorial held in Istanbul on April 24.
“It is Turkey’s conscientious and ethical responsibility to share the historical pain of our Armenian citizens,” read the statement at the Istanbul Armenian Church on the 103rd anniversary of the mass killing of Ottoman Armenians during World War I.
“We will continue to share your pain and try to resolve your problems in the future,” added the statement, which was read out both in Armenian and Turkish.
Extending his condolences to the Armenian community, Erdoğan also expressed “condolences to the Turkish nation over loss of lives of millions of Ottoman citizens due to wars, migrations, conflicts and diseases during the same period.”
The statement also called on the Armenian community to not allow those “who are trying to ignite hatred and hostility by distorting [our] shared past.”
The Turkish president has issued a statement on the issue on April 24 every year since 2014. The 2014 message came as a surprise at the time, with Erdoğan lamenting “shared pain” over the killings, which he described as “inhumane.”
In contrast with the stance of Armenia, its diaspora and numerous other countries, Ankara does not recognize the 1915 killings as “genocide,” emphasizing that there were casualties “on both sides.”
Turkey’s official position has long stated that there was no organized campaign to wipe out Armenians and no evidence of any such orders from the Ottoman authorities in the historical records.