Turks Establish Center to Study Armenian Genocide Claims
Turkey has established a research center to study allegations of an Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire that have strained its ties not only with Armenia but also with its key ally, the US, Anatolia news agency reported Sunday.
The center for Turco-Armenian relations and genocide research was founded by the Ataturk University in Erzurum in eastern Turkey, the scene of a controversial crackdown on Armenians during the dissolution years of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1900s.
The foundation of the institute comes at a time when tempers are running high between Turkey and the United States following the approval Thursday of a draft bill recognizing the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide in a House of Representatives sub-committee.
Turkey warned the US that an ultimate adoption of the bill in the House would seriously harm the friendly ties between Ankara and Washington and further deteriorate its already troubled relations with Yerevan.
Armenia maintains that up to 1.3 million of its people were massacred, while Turkey puts the figure at around 300,000.
Turkey categorically rejects claims of genocide saying that thousands of Turks also died in what was internal fighting prior to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The center, to be inaugurated on October 4, will carry out studies into the disputed period of history, evaluate documents and findings and make them known to the international public, its head Erol Kurkcuoglu said, according to Anatolia.
"We do not want Turco-Armenian relations and genocide claims to be manipulated in politics. We aim at shedding light on history with historic documents and we have plenty of them," he added.
Turkey has refused to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia due to Yerevan's international campaign for the recognition of its genocide claims and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan, a close ally of Turkey.
Extremely sensitive on genocide allegations, Turkey has previously come hard on France and Israel when they made inconclusive moves to acknowledge the 1915 massacre as genocide - ANKARA (AFP)
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