Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called on all Armenians to jointly seek ways to resolve their historical differences with Turkey, stressing that it is a must for Turks and Armenians to “engage in humane relations and to recognize each other in light of 800 years of common history.”
“It’s possible for two ancient people to have the maturity to understand each other and to look to the future together. Turks and Armenians, sharing the same geography and long history, can only talk to each other about their problems and seek together ways to resolve them. It is a necessity for us to develop mutual trust and cooperation, to know each other again in light of our 800 years of common history, and to engage in a humane relationship,” Davutoğlu said in a written statement issued on Jan. 20, a day after the eighth anniversary of the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
“With this understanding, we invite our Armenian friends to pay more visits to Turkey in order to remove mutual prejudices,” he added.
Davutoğlu’s call to Armenians comes on the centennial anniversary of the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, recognized as the Armenian genocide by a number of countries. Armenia is preparing to hold massive ceremonies to mark the 100th anniversary in Yerevan on April 24 and has invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the events. Ankara, on the other hand, is planning to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli and extended an invitation to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to attend the ceremony in western Turkey. Sargsyan immediately turned the invitation down.
In his Jan. 20 statement, Davutoğlu also vowed that Turkey will continue to value “prominent Armenian figures who have contributed to the preservation of Armenian cultural artifacts and Ottoman/Turkish culture.”
“It’s our candid wish to re-establish friendships, heal wounds and share sufferings. Our vision is of friendship and peace,” he stated.
Describing Dink as an “Anatolian intellectual”, who abandoned neither his Armenian roots nor his loyalty to Turkey and sought ways for both Turks and Armenians to build a common future, the prime minister said he was “committed to following the torch lit by Dink.”
“We invite everyone believing in Turkish-Armenian friendship to contribute to a new beginning, and we want to call out to all Armenians: Having already stated that the policies of forced deportation implemented in war conditions, in 1915, created inhuman consequences, Turkey shares the suffering of Armenians. It makes efforts to once again establish sympathy between the two people with patience and commitment,” Davutoğlu said.
He also described the official message of condolence issued by Turkey on April 23, 2014 as a “clear and concrete expression of Turkey’s intention to overcome this problem.”
“The way to leave the great tragedy that had frozen history in 1915 is to break taboos. Turkey, for its part, has moved beyond this point and left stereotypical rhetoric and generalizations in the past,” Davutoğlu stated.