YEREVAN — President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday rejected his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s invitation to visit Turkey on April 24 and attend a remembrance ceremony for 1915 battle of Gallipoli, calling it a “primitive” attempt to overshadow the centenary of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire.. The letter reads, in part:

“Dear Mr. President,

I received your invitation to participate in the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli battle.

Truly, the World War I is one of the most terrific pages in human history that claimed the lives of millions of innocent people and left the fate of many others broken.

Participating in the battle of Gallipoli was Armenian artillerist of the Ottoman troops, Captain Sargis Torosyan, who devoted his life to the protection of the Empire and was awarded military honors by the Ottoman Empire for his deeds. Meanwhile, the wave of massacre deliberately planned and perpetrated by the Ottoman Government did not spare even Sargis Torosyan. Among the 1.5 million Armenians killed in the Genocide were his parents, while his sister died in the Syrian Desert.

As a result of this unprecedented massacre Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide.” It was the unpunished genocide that prepared ground for the Holocaust, as well as the genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia and Darfur.

You say the battle of Gallipoli was a unique example of friendly relations born in war for not only Turkey, but also the whole world, while the battlefield is a monument to peace and friendship reminding about the bitter legacy of the war. Leaving aside the importance of the Gallipoli battle or Turkey’s controversial role in the First and Second World Wars, it is necessary to remember that peace and friendship should be first of all based on the courage to face own history, the historic justice, as well as the complete, not selective, acknowledgment of the universal memory.

Unfortunately, Turkey continues the traditional policy of denial and “improves” the tools of distortion of history year by year. For the first time it will celebrate the anniversary of Gallipoli battle on April 24, while it started on March 18, 1915 and continued into late January, 1916, and the allies landed and started the battles on April 25. What purpose does this pursue, if not diverting the attention of the international community from the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide? Meanwhile, before initiating the event, Turkey had a more important commitment before its own people and whole humanity, i.e. the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide.

Therefore, I would advice you not to forget to file a message of recognition of the Armenian Genocide to the world by commemorating the 1.5 million innocent victims. It’s the duty of everyone to pass the real undistorted history to the generations, thus preventing the reoccurrence of such crimes and preparing ground for the rapprochement between nations, especially neighboring nations and for further cooperation.”

P.S. Your Excellency, a few month ago I invited you to Yerevan to commemorate the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2015. We usually don’t accept being hosted by the invitee without receiving a response to our invitation.”

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