Armenian president again blasts Ankara over April 24 invitation

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan described as “cynical and shortsighted” the recent invitation by his Turkish counterpart to attend events marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli in Istanbul on April 24 – the day when Armenians around the world will be marking the centennial of the Genocide committed in Ottoman Turkey.

“They say all measures are suitable in politics. But I believe official Ankara offered a bad service to itself in this matter,” Sargsyan said during Thursday’s fifth session of the State Commission for the Coordination of the Events for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

In mid-January Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent out invitations to the leaders of more than a hundred countries, including the Armenian president, to come to Turkey for the massive ceremonies.

Sargsyan immediately replied then reminding Erdogan about his earlier invitation to him to come to Yerevan “to face up to history” on April 24. The Armenian president also called the Turkish move a “primitive” attempt to overshadow the centenary of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the State Commission for the Coordination of the Events for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide made a “pan-Armenian declaration” on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

The commission headed by President Sargsyan and comprising senior Armenian state officials, the top clerics of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Diaspora leaders met in Yerevan to discuss final preparations for the anniversary commemorations. Sargsyan read out the declaration adopted by them at the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial Complex.

The document made of 12 points, in particular, expresses “the united will of Armenia and the Armenian people to achieve worldwide recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the elimination of the consequences of the Genocide, preparing to this end a file of legal claims as a point of departure in the process of restoring individual, communal and pan-Armenian rights and legitimate interests.”

The declaration calls on the Turkish state to “face up to its own history and past” by ending its long-running denial of the genocide. It also praises a growing number of Turks acknowledging the genocidal character of the 1915 mass killings and deportations of Armenians.