ANKARA (RFE/RL) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly complained about Armenia’s position on the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire in a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin late on Tuesday.
News reports quoting unnamed Turkish government sources said Erdogan brought up the mass killings and deportations of Armenians during the 30-minute conversation that also touched on Russian-Turkish relations and the crisis in Ukraine.
According to the Anatolia news agency, Erdogan told Putin that the genocide issue should be tackled from a “fair perspective.” The agency said the Turkish leader also criticized Yerevan for not accepting his proposal to set up a Turkish-Armenian commission of historians tasked with looking into the events of 1915. It gave no further details.
The Kremlin did not mention the genocide issue in its readout of the phone call initiated by Erdogan. It said only that the two leaders discussed “pressing international and regional issues.”
It was thus not clear whether Erdogan objected to Putin’s decision to take part in the April 24 ceremonies in Yerevan that will mark the centenary of the Armenian genocide.
The decision was announced after Putin’s March 12 phone call with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian. “Yes, he will fly to Yerevan,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the AFP news agency.
Russia is among about two dozen countries that have officially recognized the World War One-era slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians as genocide. Successive Turkish governments have strongly criticized the recognitions, saying that Armenians died in smaller numbers and not as a result of an Ottoman government effort to exterminate them.
In an apparent effort to deflect international attention from the upcoming commemorations of the genocide centenary, Erdogan’s government has scheduled this year’s annual remembrance of a Turkish victory in a World War One battle for April 24. It has invited over 100 world leaders, including Sarkisian, to the celebration. Sarkisian has angrily rejected the Turkish invitation.