ANKARA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has extended an invitation to Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian to attend ceremonies marking the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli in Çanakkkale in late April, which coincides with the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
As part of Ankara’s charm offensive ahead of the centennial anniversary of the Genocide, Turkey plans to hold massive ceremonies to mark the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli on April 23 and 24, Erdogan has sent out invitations to the leaders of 102 countries, including Armenian President Sarkisian and U.S. President Barack Obama.
The ANZAC Troops (Australia-New Zealand Army Corps) disembarked onto the shores of Çanakkkale on April 25, 1915 in a bid to destroy Turkish artillery units, but were defeated in bloody combat that continued until December 1915. Ever since, Australians and New Zealanders have commemorated the Battle of Gallipoli on April 25, on the date of the first landing, and on Aug 6 to Aug 10, the second landing of the ANZAC troops.
Marking the 100th anniversary of the battle for Turkey, Australia and New Zealand, the Turkish government is set to organize ceremonies with the participation of 8,500 Australians and 2,000 New Zealanders. The U.K.’s Prince Charles and his two sons, and the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand, are expected to take part in commemorations.
A day before the April 24 ceremonies in Çanakkale, the government is planning to host a reception and a “Summit of Peace” in Istanbul on April 23, the day when Turkey marks the 95th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Parliament.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has signed invitation letters to his counterparts, while President Erdogan has sent letters to the heads of state, accompanied by the message, “We would be delighted to have you with us on the 100th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Gallipoli.”
Speaking to daily Hürriyet, a Turkish government official recalled that along with the many other ethnic groups who fought in the ranks of the Ottoman military, the Armenians also fought at Gallipoli. “We fought together in Gallipoli. That’s why we have extended the invitation to Sarkisian as well,” the official added.
However, April 24, 1915 is also the date of commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Sarkisian has invited world leaders to Yerevan on the same day.