Turkey shares the pain of Armenians whose parents or grandparents were killed under the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday, AFP reports.
“We once again respectfully remember and share the pain of grandchildren and children of Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives during deportation in 1915,” Davutoglu said in a statement released by his office to mark the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.
Davutoglu made clear once more in the statement that Turkey did not accept the word genocide to describe the killings.
“To reduce everything to a single word, to put responsibility through generalisations on the Turkish nation alone… is legally and morally problematic,” he said.
The relatively conciliatory tone of the statement contrasts with the furious reaction from Ankara early this month when Pope Francis used the term genocide to describe the killings.
Davutoglu had on April 12 lashed out at Francis for what he described as “inappropriate” and “one-sided” comments on the issue.
The latest statement said the “Ottoman Armenians” would be remembered at a service to be held at the Armenian patriarchate in Istanbul on April 24.
Davutoglu said Turks and Armenians should “heal their wounds from that century and reestablish their human relations”.
The statement builds on an expression of condolences issued by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while he was still prime minister in April 2014.
In that statement, Erdogan described the killings as “our shared pain” in what was the weightiest statement yet from a Turkish leader on the issue.