ANKARA — Turkey’s new President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was formally invited to visit Armenia next April and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, after being sworn in for a five-year term on Thursday.
Armenian Foreign Minister Minister Edward Nalbandian, who was in Ankara to participate in the inauguration ceremony, handed Erdogan a corresponding letter from President Serzh Sarkisian as the two men briefly spoke at a reception in Ankara that followed the presidential inauguration.
Sarkisian first publicly extended the invitation in May, three months before the Turkish presidential election. In televised remarks, he urged the winner of the ballot to visit Yerevan on April 24, 2014 and “face up to telling testimonies of the history of the Armenian Genocide.”
Sarkisian said on August 23 that Nalbandian “will learn” on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony whether Erdogan will accept the invitation. A statement on Nalbandian’s trip to Ankara released by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said nothing in regards to that issue. Turkish officials have expressed no indication as to whether or not the new Turkish president is ready for what would be a historic trip to Armenia.
Sarkisian’s decision to dispatch his foreign minister to Erdogan’s swearing-in has prompted criticism from Armenia’s opposition parties.