ISTANBUL—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Armenia to examine the 1915 events through the lens of “science, not politics,” criticizing Yerevan’s rejection of Ankara’s invitation to representatives of the country to attend war commemoration ceremonies in Turkey on the same day that Armenians annually commemorate the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government.
“Let’s remove the 1915 events from the area of politics and refer to science and scientists,” Erdogan said during a symposium on the topic, co-organized by Bogota Externado University and Ankara University. He was attending the event as part of his official visit to Colombia on Feb. 10.
“What the Armenians did against the Turks and what the Turks did against the Armenians 100 years ago has not been properly discussed,” Erdogan said, echoing Turkish denialist arguments that not only was there no genocide, but that it was Armenians who killed Turks.
“We have made an effort to fix relations with Armenia and open a new page. Unfortunately, our hand of peace has always been rejected by the influence of the Armenian diaspora,” he added.
In January, the Turkish president sent invitation letters to more than 100 leaders, including Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, to participate in ceremonies on April 24 marking the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli. The ceremonies were rearranged this year to be on the same day as Armenia’s traditional day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide.
Meanwhile, Erdogan made no reply to a much earlier invitation from Sarkisian to attend Armenian Genocide commemorations in Yerevan.
Sarkisian denounced Erdogan’s invitation as a “short-sighted” attempt to overshadow the 100th anniversary the massacres of Ottoman Armenians.