Turkey should engage with Armenia, not Armenian diaspora, Mahçupyan says
ANKARA—Turkey should turn the centenary of the Armenian Genocide into an opportunity to engage with the Armenian state and society rather than the Armenian diaspora, the Turkish prime minister’s adviser Etyen Mahçupyan has said, claiming that the Armenian state is more open to dialogue, Hurriyet Daily News reports.
Mahçupyan said reciprocal steps by Turkey and Armenia on the centenary of the 1915 genocide would change relations between the two states in a “healing” way, adding that the initial phase should be between Turkey and Armenia, rather than the Armenian diaspora.
“Armenia and its society are more ready to engage with Turkey than the diaspora. But because we hear the state’s voice and as the state speaks as a state, it seems bold,” Mahçupyan was quoted as saying by Hurriyet Daily.
Claiming that “when one speaks to the people on the streets of Armenia, one can understand that they are seeking closure,” Mahçupyan said the same was true for Turkey.
He added that although the two nations were the “children of the same culture” and there was a “longing” between them, the world’s current state system had drawn borders between nations, making inter-state relations more formal and cold.
Commenting on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s invitation to Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian to attend a ceremony marking the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli — which Turkey incidentally scheduled to take place on April 24, the day Armenians mark the Armenian Genocide every year — Mahçupyan said the invitation was made to the entire world, including Armenia.
The adviser also said that many Armenians soldiers had died for the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Gallipoli, so the ceremony would “naturally be of interest” to the Armenian state.
“But states might not act with moral responsibilities. They hold a more self-serving and bargaining perspective,” said Mahçupyan, referring to Sarkisian’s decision to decline the invitation, but failing to mention Erdogan’s decision to respond to an earlier invitation from Sarkisian to attend commemoration events for the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan.
The Turkish government to this day refuses to acknowledge that the systematic, state-sponsored murder of 1.5 million Armenians and the exile of Armenians from their historic homelands constitutes a genocide. Instead, the Turkish state claims that it was Armenians who killed Turks and that Armenians were relocated from their homes for their own safety. Writers and public figures in Turkey are arrested regularly for speaking about the Armenian Genocide, which is illegal in Turkey under certain circumstances.