ISTANBUL — In a statement read out to Armenians attending a church mass in Istanbul today, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey shares the pain of the Armenian people in connection with “the tragic events of 1915”.

In his statement Erdogan said: “I once again respectfully commemorate all Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives under the conditions of World War I and offer my condolences to their children and grandchildren.”

“I cherish the memories across all corners of our lands of the Armenian community; the economic, social, cultural and political contributions to the Ottoman Empire and our republic we always remember with appreciation.”

“I commemorate all Ottoman citizens who lost their lives under similar conditions during World War I whatever their ethnic or religious identity.”

“We founded the state of the Republic of Turkey without forgetting these pains, but also knowing how to cope with them. And today we work and struggle with all our citizens and friends regardless of their ethnic and religious identity to reach even more beautiful days on the basis of peace and fraternity.”

“We have a culture that is able to host with enthusiasm the grandchildren of those who came to occupy our shared homeland a century ago with the aim of condemning war and praise peace and friendship. I once again state that we know the sorrowful events that the Armenian community experienced in the past and we sincerely share your pain. I also want you to know that the doors of our heart are wide open to the grandchildren of Ottoman Armenians across the world. I salute you with my most heartfelt sentiments and send you all my love and respect.”

Earlier, during an event devoted to Battle of Gallipoli (1915-16) held in Istanbul Erdogan said that Turkey is ready to open its archives, specifically military archives related to 1915 events.

“I want to address my words to the European Union (EU). They advised us to open our archives. I have always said that we are ready to open the archives. We are also ready to open our military archives,” the Presdient of Turkey said.

Erdogan also urged Armenia and all the rest of the countries who might have 1915 events related archive documents to make them accessible for experts and analysts.

“Turkey has nothing to worry about. And if a genocide took place, then why do 80,000 Armenians live in our country now, let’s think,” Erdogan said.

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