Armenia has dismissed Turkey’s condolences over the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman troops during the First World War.
On Thursday, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan did not acknowledge Ankara’s move and instead accused Turkey of showing “utter denial” in failing to recognize the massacre as genocide.
“The Armenian genocide… is alive as far as the successor of the Ottoman Turkey continues its policy of utter denial,” the Armenian president said, adding, “The denial of a crime constitutes the direct continuation of that very crime.”
“Only recognition and condemnation can prevent the repetition of such crimes in the future,” Sargsyan added.
In a rare expression of sympathy on the eve of the 99th anniversary of the mass killing of Armenians, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued an official statement on Wednesday which was translated into nine different languages, including Armenian.
Using an unprecedented conciliatory language in his statement, the Turkish premier called for dialogue between the two countries, and the formation of a commission to probe the incident.
Erdogan, however, reiterated a long-held Turkish position that the incident should be commemorated “without discriminating as to religion or ethnicity.”
Yerevan claims up to 1.5 million Armenians were systematically killed between 1915 and 1917, when the Ottoman Empire was falling apart.
Ankara categorically rejects the term genocide, saying 500,000 died in fighting and of starvation during World War I.
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in a show of support for its regional ally Azerbaijan, which had a dispute with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The region is internationally recognized as an Azeri territory but was seized by Armenia-backed separatists in the 1990s.
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