ISTANBUL — Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says that the relations between Ankara and Yerevan might enter into a ‘new era’ if Armenian Diaspora decides to take ‘bold steps’ similar to one Ankara has taken.
In an article published by the Hurriyet Daily News the top Turkish diplomat describes Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent statement on the “Armenian Issue” as an example of such a bold step.
Erdogan issued Turkey’s first-ever statement offering condolences to the descendants of slain Ottoman Armenians in April, just a day before the traditional 99th anniversary of the mass killings at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The statement highlighted the “shared pain” endured during the 1915 events and expressed condolences on behalf of the Turkish state to the grandchildren of Armenians who lost their lives “in the context of the early 20th century.”
“Open and continuous dialogue is extremely important if mental images are to ever change. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 1915 condolence message on 23 April 2014 is a bold step in this direction. I believe that Armenia and the Armenian diaspora will take similar bold steps and that Turkish-Armenian relations will enter a new era. Erdogan’s message of condolence should not be seen as a conjunctural step. It should be seen as a prelude for transformation of minds and memories because this is not only an offer of condolence but also a sincere invitation to all parties to ensure a common future based on lasting peace,” he said in the article .
“A new and more grounded era of peace will reign between Turkey and Armenia if intellectuals and politicians do their part to overcome the psychological barriers on both sides and to build a ‘just memory. Otherwise, both sides will inevitably be exploited by those who benefit from a sector that feeds off the status quo,” he wrote. Turkey and Armenia signed a protocol in 2009 to restore diplomatic relations,” Davutoglu added.
“The greatest injustice that has been visited on both history and the peoples in question is setting aside the shared history of the two peoples and the previous rich centuries, and beginning instead only with traumatic events like war and conflict, or reconstructing the previous centuries by making these traumatic events the center of everything,” he also wrote.
“The ‘unjust memory’ created around the events of 1915 constitutes the most important example of this phenomenon as it mortgages the shared past and future of the Turks and Armenians,” he added, urging open and continuous dialogue between the two sides.
“The ‘just memory’ concept that we have frequently employed during this process is critically important. In order for Turks and Armenians to understand what each of them has experienced, it is essential that they respect one another’s memory. For the Armenians, 1915 was a year of relocation during which exceedingly great tragedies took place. The years prior to and after 1915 were also a time of tremendous tragedy for the Turks in Anatolia. It was at this time that Turks fought for their very survival in the Balkan Wars, at Çanakkale, and in the War of Independence. Actually, this was a time of ‘shared pain,’” Davutoglu wrote.
Yerevan dismissed Erdogan’s statement as an “advanced form of Armenian Genocide denial.” But on May 27 Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian officially invited the next president of Turkey, who will be elected during the upcoming ballot, to visit Armenia on April 24, 2015 and “face the evidence of the history of the Armenian Genocide.”