Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has downplayed the massacre of Armenians during World War I, saying that Turkish ancestors never committed genocide.
“The Armenian claims on the 1915 events… are all baseless and groundless,” Erdogan said at the Istanbul Peace Summit on Thursday.
“I would like to address the European Union. They have been advising us to open our archives. I have always been saying that we are ready to open our archives,” he said, adding that there are millions of documents.
“We are also ready to open our military archives,” the Turkish president pointed out.
Erdogan said that historical documents about the 1915 events are open to all for analysis, calling on Armenia and other countries to open their archives as well.
On April 20, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Ankara shares Armenians’ pain over the mass killing of their ancestors in 1915, but stopped well short of recognizing the killings as genocide.
“We once again respectfully remember and share the pain of grandchildren and children of Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives during deportation in 1915,” Davutoglu said.
However, he said, “To reduce everything to a single word, to put responsibility through generalizations on the Turkish nation alone… is legally and morally problematic.”
Armenians claim that up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians were systematically slaughtered in eastern Turkey through mass killing, forced relocations and starvation, a process that began in 1915 and took place over several years during World War I and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.
Ankara rejects the term “genocide” and says 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks perished between 1915 and 1917, in what the Turkish government sees as the “casualties” of World War I.
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