Erdogan says he 'sincerely' shares Armenians' pain
Statement from Turkish president read out at Armenian commemoration service in Istanbul

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that he "sincerely" shares the pain of Turkey’s Armenian community over the deaths of their ancestors in 1915.

"On this day that carries a special significance for our Armenian citizens, I once again respectfully commemorate all the Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives amid the conditions of the World War I and extend my condolences to their children and grandchildren," Erdogan said in a statement read out at the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul.

The statement was read by Tatul Anusyan, chairman of Patriarchate Assembly, at a service held to remember those who lost their lives during the relocation of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian population in 1915.

Erdogan said the Republic of Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman Empire, was founded "not by forgetting these sufferings but by learning to cope with them."

He added that Turkey was working to secure a better future on the basis of peace, harmony and fraternity.

"Let me reiterate that we are cognizant of the sorrowful events experienced in the past by the Armenian community and that I sincerely share your pain," Erdogan said.

"Please rest assured also that our hearts remain wide open to the grandchildren of the Ottoman Armenians all around the world."

The 1915 events took place during World War I when a portion of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with the invading Russians and revolted.

Turkey has called for the establishment of a joint commission of historians and the opening of archives to study and uncover what happened between the Ottoman Empire and its Armenian citizens.

The relocation by the Ottomans of Armenians in eastern Anatolia following the revolts resulted in numerous casualties. Turkey does not dispute that there were casualties on both sides, but rejects the definition of "genocide."

Last Modified: 2015-04-25 12:47:36
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