News You Really Need To See: “Turkey Offers Condolences to Armenians Over Killings”

“Turkey Offers Condolences to Armenians Over Killings”

The New York Times, April 23, 2014, p.A14

“For the first time, the Turkish government offered condolences on Wednesday to the descendants of Armenians who were killed by the Ottoman Army in 1915.  But it stood by its official position that the events were not a genocide, as they have been called by several Western governments and international organizations.  The office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan posted a lengthy statement on the matter on its website, and it was translated into nine languages, including Armenian.  The statement encouraged people to talk about and remember their losses ‘with maturity.’ … It was a major departure for Turkey, where until recently even a simple reference to the events of 1915 was regarded as an insult to Turkishness, and people who expressed any disagreement with the official line could be jailed for up to two years. … The Turkish government still insists that the deaths of at least 1.5 million Armenians in eastern Turkey in 1915 were caused by the hardships and violence of World War I, and not by government-directed mass killings or death marches, as many historians say.  Even so, Mr. Erdogan’s government adopted an unprecedented conciliatory tone in its statement, and suggested that a group of renowned international historians be convened to examine international archives and resolve the issue.”

Quickie analysis: It’s about time (but still sort of like saying to your girlfriend, “I’m sorry you didn’t like what I said”). 

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