Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a message to a religious ceremony held in the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul on April 24 to commemorate the victims of the “1915 killings of Armenians under Ottoman rule”, addressing Patriarch Aram Ateşyan, general vicar of the Armenian patriarch of Turkey, and citizens of Armenian origin, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
“This year, I once again pay our respects to the Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives under the harsh conditions of the First World War and convey my condolences to their descendants,” Erdogan said in the message.
“Turks and Armenians, as two ancient nations of this region, have shared a common history and culture in this geography, where they lived side by side for a thousand years,” he said.
The Armenian community made great contributions to the Ottoman Empire, as well as to the modern republic, the president said.
“Armenians, as equal and free citizens, have important roles in the social, political and commercial life of our country today, as they did in the past,” he said.
It is our common objective for these two peoples, who have shared the grief and happiness of centuries, to heal the wounds of the past and strengthen people to people ties.
Turkey has taken steps “to heal the wounds of the past” and strengthen the ties between the two peoples, Erdogan said.
“We are determined to advance our efforts and preserve the memory of the Ottoman Armenians and the Armenian cultural heritage in the future,” he said.
“On this occasion, I would like to emphasize that the peace, security and happiness of our Armenian community are of special importance to us. We have no tolerance for the alienation and exclusion of our Armenian citizens and for a single Armenian citizen to feel second-class,” he said.
“I convey my hope for the speedy conclusion of the election of the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey and wish you success in this endeavor,” he said.
“With these thoughts, I once again pay tribute to the memories of the Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives at the beginning of the 20th century. May millions of Ottoman citizens deceased under the difficult conditions of the First World War rest in peace,” Erdoğan said.