Erdogan Issues Statement on ‘Events of 1915’
By Weekly Staff on April 23, 2014 

ANKARA, Turkey (A.W.)—Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan issued a statement today “on the events of 1915,” a day
before the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Below is the full text of the statement, in English, as posted on the
prime minister’s website.

***

THE MESSAGE OF THE PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC
OF TURKEY, RECEP TAYYIP ERDOĞAN ON THE EVENTS OF
1915

[unofficial translation]

“The 24th of April carries a particular significance for our Armenian
citizens and for all Armenians around the world, and provides a
valuable opportunity to share opinions freely on a historical matter.

It is indisputable that the last years of the Ottoman Empire were a
difficult period, full of suffering for Turkish, Kurdish, Arab, Armenian
and millions of other Ottoman citizens, regardless of their religion or
ethnic origin.

Any conscientious, fair and humanistic approach to these issues
requires an understanding of all the sufferings endured in this period,
without discriminating as to religion or ethnicity.

Certainly, neither constructing hierarchies of pain nor comparing and
contrasting suffering carries any meaning for those who experienced
this pain themselves.

As a Turkish proverb goes, “fire burns the place where it falls.”
It is a duty of humanity to acknowledge that Armenians remember the
suffering experienced in that period, just like every other citizen of
the Ottoman Empire.

In Turkey, expressing different opinions and thoughts freely on the
events of 1915 is the requirement of a pluralistic perspective as well
as of a culture of democracy and modernity.

Some may perceive this climate of freedom in Turkey as an opportunity
to express accusatory, offensive and even provocative assertions and
allegations.

Even so, if this will enable us to better understand historical issues
with their legal aspects and to transform resentment to friendship
again, it is natural to approach different discourses with empathy
and tolerance and expect a similar attitude from all sides.
The Republic of Turkey will continue to approach every idea with
dignity in line with the universal values of law.

Nevertheless, using the events of 1915 as an excuse for hostility
against Turkey and turning this issue into a matter of political conflict
is inadmissible.

The incidents of the First World War are our shared pain. To evaluate
this painful period of history through a perspective of just memory is
a humane and scholarly responsibility.

Millions of people of all religions and ethnicities lost their lives in the
First World War. Having experienced events which had inhumane
consequences – such as relocation – during the First World War,
should not prevent Turks and Armenians from establishing compassion
and mutually humane attitudes among towards one another.

In today’s world, deriving enmity from history and creating new
antagonisms are neither acceptable nor useful for building a common
future.

The spirit of the age necessitates dialogue despite differences,
understanding by heeding others, evaluating means for compromise,
denouncing hatred, and praising respect and tolerance.

With this understanding, we, as the Turkish Republic, have called
for the establishment of a joint historical commission in order to study
the events of 1915 in a scholarly manner. This call remains valid.

Scholarly research to be carried out by Turkish, Armenian and
international historians would play a significant role in shedding light
on the events of 1915 and an accurate understanding of history.

It is with this understanding that we have opened our archives to all
researchers. Today, hundreds of thousands of documents in our
archives are at the service of historians.

Looking to the future with confidence, Turkey has always supported
scholarly and comprehensive studies for an accurate understanding
of history. The people of Anatolia, who lived together for centuries
regardless of their different ethnic and religious origins, have
established common values in every field from art to diplomacy, from
state administration to commerce. Today they continue to have the
same ability to create a new future.

It is our hope and belief that the peoples of an ancient and unique
geography, who share similar customs and manners will be able to
talk to each other about the past with maturity and to remember
together their losses in a decent manner. And it is with this hope and
belief that we wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the
context of the early twentieth century rest in peace, and we convey
our condolences to their grandchildren.

Regardless of their ethnic or religious origins, we pay tribute, with
compassion and respect, to all Ottoman citizens who lost their lives
in the same period and under similar conditions.

Below is a public statement from
the Chairperson of Izmir Council of Peace 
ZEYNEP TOZDUMAN 
APRIL 24 , 2013

MY APOLOGY TO
ALL THE PEOPLES OF ANATOLIA SUBJECTED TO GENOCIDE.

I APOLOGIZE for every single day that we have remained
silent since the days of genocide.

I APOLOGIZE for our grandfathers who
cooperated with the murderers carrying out the brutal
massacre of 1.5 million people in Anatolia.

I APOLOGIZE from your young girls for
permanently burying their hopes into their dowry chests.

I APOLOGIZE from all your people left dead without a
proper burial, shroud or cemeteries.

I APOLOGIZE for causing you to add the word ‘converted –
Donme’ to your vocabulary.

I APOLOGIZE from all your girls and women abused and
raped, forcefully converted to Kurd, Turk, Alevi or Islam.

I APOLOGIZE for forcing you to become the Diaspora and
scatter like pomegranate seeds to all corners of the
world.

I APOLOGIZE for forcing you to long for your homeland with
broken hearts from the faraway deportation points.

I APOLOGIZE for preventing you from giving your children
proper names and education in your mother tongue, a basic
human right.

I APOLOGIZE for confiscating your houses, properties,
lands, farms, orchards, and shops to create our national
economy, based on a disease of racism in this country.

I APOLOGIZE for denying even the very existence of the
original peoples of these lands after subjecting them to
economic, cultural and political genocide.

I APOLOGIZE for confiscating your places of worship
(monastery, church, synagogue, Jem house, etc.) and
converting them to mosques, museums, community centres
or stables.

I APOLOGIZE from the survivors of the
genocide for even forbidding them from dreaming in their
own language.

I APOLOGIZE for forcing racism on you by making you repeat
every morning ‘So happy to be a Turk’.

I APOLOGIZE for presenting your properties as gifts to
your own murderers.

I APOLOGIZE for transforming the Anatolian garden of
different peoples to a cemetery of different peoples.

I APOLOGIZE for realizing too late that the sorrow
expressed in the song ‘Sari Gelin’ was in reality the
sorrow of the genocide.

I APOLOGIZE for wiping out the various original peoples of
Anatolia, living on these lands long before the arrival of
the Turks, and for trying o create a single nation state.

I APOLOGIZE for creating a hell of murders in this
country, instead of a heaven of humanity.

I APOLOGIZE for burying all the named Agop, Kiriakos,
Samuel, Ani, Maria or Sarkis in my city Smyrna as well as
the rest of the country, burying our humanity in the
process.

I APOLOGIZE for committing crimes against humanity for one
thousand and four hundred years in these lands.

I APOLOGIZE for not realizing that fascism would
eventually arrive and start killing us as well in these
lands.

I APOLOGIZE for not being able to put a stop to the denial
and assimilation policies for one hundred years.

I APOLOGIZE especially for our inhumane behaviour during
the genocides of the Armenians, Assyrians, Pontic Greeks,
Yezidis and Alevis.

And I APOLOGIZE once again on this April 24 genocide
commemoration day, for our inability to protect you and
preserve our humanity.

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