Turkey’s president addresses issue of so-called ‘genocide’ allegations in northwestern province of Kocaeli.
Turkey is ready to cooperate with Armenia should it take “positive” steps with regards to so-called “genocide” allegations as well as to a dispute with Azerbaijan over the region of Karabakh, Turkey’s president has said Saturday.
“Our door is still open to Armenia,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at the inauguration ceremony of various facilities in the northwestern Turkish province of Kocaeli.
“We are ready for any kind of cooperation with (Armenia) if they take positive steps on the so called ‘genocide’ allegations,” said Erdogan.
On Wednesday, the European Parliament adopted the resolution recognizing the 1915 events as “genocide.” It came three days after Pope Francis also called the 1915 incidents a “genocide,” drawing sharp criticism from the Turkish government.
Erdogan said that nearly 80,000 Armenians lived in Turkey – most of them illegally, he underlined.
“They receive free education, they are involved in trade, they work in the public sector (…), they benefit from all the rights other citizens have,” he said
“Politicizing this issue, while pulling off it from the historical basis, will damage mostly Armenians,” he added.
He also reiterated that historical documents about the events were open to all for analysis and called on Armenia and other countries to open their archives, if they had any.
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.
Erdogan also criticized Selahattin Demirtas, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party co-chair, who did not sign a joint statement condemning the European Parliament’s resolution.
The ruling AK Party and two main opposition parties, Republican People’s Party and Nationalist Movement Party, issued a joint statement on Thursday to strongly condemn the European Parliament’s recent resolution terming the 1915 events “genocide.”
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 against the Empire. The relocation by the Ottoman Empire of Armenians in eastern Anatolia following the revolts resulted in numerous casualties.
Erdogan also addressed the Karabakh region issue.
“We are ready to meet and talk with Armenian politicians, who show courage and will, but first the Karabakh dispute has to be resolved,” he added.
Azerbaijan and Armenia, two former Soviet republics, fought a war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in the 1990s.
Turkey has supported Azerbaijan in its struggle against Armenia over the disputed region and aims to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.