Turkey PM offers unprecedented condolences to Armenian genocide victims' families
Turkey's Erdogan released his statement in solidarity with the Armenian people on the eve of the anniversary of the 1915 mass deportations of Armenians from present-day Turkey (Adem Altan/AFP)
Agence France Presse reported Wednesday that Turkey's Prime Minister offered condolences to descendants of the victims from the Armenian genocide during World War I, representing the first such overt comment ever publicly stated by a Turkish leader in reference to the killings.
In his statement released a day ahead of the 99th anniversary of the mass deportations of Armenians in 1915, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "The incidents of the First World War are our shared pain. It is our hope and belief that the peoples of an ancient and unique geography, who share similar customs and manners will be able to talk to each other about the past with maturity and to remember together their losses in a decent manner....And it is with this hope and belief that we wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the context of the early 20th century rest in peace, and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren."
The 1915 massacre is considered by many as the first genocide of the 20th century, but Turkey has refused to label it as such, saying that 500,000 of the 1.5 million killed under Ottoman rule was due to "fighting and starvation," not genocide.