YEREVAN — President Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday called on the winner of Turkey’s upcoming presidential election to visit Armenia next year and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.
Sarkisian announced his invitation at the meeting of of the State Commission coordinating the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. He scoffed at the official Turkish line that the 1915 mass killings of Armenians should be addressed not by governments but historians having access to the state archives of both countries.
“If Turkey’s authorities want to know the truth they should come to Armenia and be with the Armenian people on April 24,” Sarkisian said in televised remarks. “I don’t think that they will call for visits to the archives after that.”
“Using this opportunity, I am officially inviting the president of Turkey, whoever wins the forthcoming elections, to visit Armenia on April 24, 2015 and face up to telling testimonies of the history of the Armenian genocide,” he declared.
The invitation was clearly addressed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is widely expected to run in and win the presidential ballot slated for August. On the eve of the most recent genocide commemoration, Erdogan extended first-ever Turkish condolences to the descendants of the Armenians massacred in Ottoman Turkey.
“The recognition of the Armenian genocide is the only step which the Turkish leadership should take in order to rid itself of the burden of the past,” Sarkisian said on Tuesday. “It’s impossible to achieve a serious result with half-measures.”
At the same time, the Armenian leader said that there is no animosity towards the Turkish people in Armenia. “Moreover, we try to create conditions in which the Armenian and Turkish people will be able to communicate with each other to find a way of reconciliation. It is with this purpose that we remain committed to normalizing relations with Turkey and opening the Armenian-Turkish border without preconditions,” Sarkisian said.
The President also informed that he had sent invitations to the heads of a number of states to visit Armenia in 2015.