ISTANBUL (Agos) — In a written statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his condolences to the descendants of Armenians killed in the Ottoman Empire a century ago. The statement was read during an April 24 mass that was held in Surp Vartanants Church in Istanbul this morning.

Here is the full statement:

“I respectfully commemorate the Ottoman Armenian who died under the tough conditions of World War I and offer my condolences to their grandchildren.

Turks and Armenians, as the ancient peoples of the region, shared a history and culture in this land where they have been living together for thousand years.

Armenian society raised great children, both during Ottoman times and Republican era, and made great contributions to the development of our country.

Armenians have always been equal and free citizens of our country and they have important parts in every fields of our social, political and commercial life.

Two peoples who shared joy and sorrow for centuries should dress the wounds of the past and strengthen their relations further; this is what we all aim to.

In this regard, we have taken many steps in 14 years and realized historic reforms.

Our efforts for protecting the memory of Ottoman Armenians and Armenian cultural heritage will continue.

On this occasion, I would like to emphasize this point: peace, safety and happiness of the Armenian society in our country are particularly important for us.

We don’t tolerate marginalization, isolation and disparagement of a single Armenian citizen.

I hope the patriarchal election will be held as soon as possible and I wish you the best in your preparations.

With these thought, I once again commemorate the Ottoman Armenians who died at the beginning of 20th century.

May God rest the souls of millions of Ottoman citizens who died under tough conditions of World War I.”

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