The Message Of The Prime Minister Of The Republic Of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan On The Events Of 1915

Rotterdam Başkonsolosluğu 24.04.2014

The 24th of April carries a particular significance for our Armenian citizens and for allArmenians around the world, and provides a valuable opportunity to share opinions freely ona historical matter.

It is indisputable that the last years of the Ottoman Empire were a difficult period, full ofsuffering for Turkish, Kurdish, Arab, Armenian and millions of other Ottoman citizens,regardless of their religion or ethnic origin.

Any conscientious, fair and humanistic approach to these issues requires an understanding ofall the sufferings endured in this period, without discriminating as to religion or ethnicity.

Certainly, neither constructing hierarchies of pain nor comparing and contrasting sufferingcarries any meaning for those who experienced this pain themselves.

As a Turkish proverb goes, “fire burns the place where it falls”.

It is a duty of humanity to acknowledge that Armenians remember the suffering experiencedin that period, just like every other citizen of the Ottoman Empire.

In Turkey, expressing different opinions and thoughts freely on the events of 1915 is therequirement of a pluralistic perspective as well as of a culture of democracy and modernity.

Some may perceive this climate of freedom in Turkey as an opportunity to expressaccusatory, offensive and even provocative assertions and allegations.

Even so, if this will enable us to better understand historical issues with their legal aspects and to transform resentment to friendship again, it is natural to approach different discourses with empathy and tolerance and expect a similar attitude from all sides.

The Republic of Turkey will continue to approach every idea with dignity in line with theuniversal values of law.

Nevertheless, using the events of 1915 as an excuse for hostility against Turkey and turningthis issue into a matter of political conflict is inadmissible.

The incidents of the First World War are our shared pain. To evaluate this painful period ofhistory through a perspective of just memory is a humane and scholarly responsibility.

Millions of people of all religions and ethnicities lost their lives in the First World War.

Having experienced events which had inhumane consequences - such as relocation - duringthe First World War, should not prevent Turks and Armenians from establishing compassionand mutually humane attitudes among towards one another.

In today’s world, deriving enmity from history and creating new antagonisms are neitheracceptable nor useful for building a common future.

The spirit of the age necessitates dialogue despite differences, understanding by heedingothers, evaluating means for compromise, denouncing hatred, and praising respect andtolerance.

With this understanding, we, as the Turkish Republic, have called for the establishment of ajoint historical commission in order to study the events of 1915 in a scholarly manner. Thiscall remains valid. Scholarly research to be carried out by Turkish, Armenian andinternational historians would play a significant role in shedding light on the events of 1915and an accurate understanding of history.

It is with this understanding that we have opened our archives to all researchers. Today,hundreds of thousands of documents in our archives are at the service of historians.

Looking to the future with confidence, Turkey has always supported scholarly andcomprehensive studies for an accurate understanding of history. The people of Anatolia, wholived together for centuries regardless of their different ethnic and religious origins, haveestablished common values in every field from art to diplomacy, from state administration tocommerce. Today they continue to have the same ability to create a new future.

It is our hope and belief that the peoples of an ancient and unique geography, who sharesimilar customs and manners will be able to talk to each other about the past with maturityand to remember together their losses in a decent manner. And it is with this hope and beliefthat we wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the context of the early twentiethcentury rest in peace, and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren.

Regardless of their ethnic or religious origins, we pay tribute, with compassion and respect, toall Ottoman citizens who lost their lives in the same period and under similar conditions.


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