Erdogan Formally Invited to Armenia for Genocide Centennial

Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian hands over the invitation letter to newly-inaugurated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan


YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Turkey’s new President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was formally invited to visit Armenia next April and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, after being sworn in as president.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian handed Erdogan a corresponding letter from President Serzh Sarkisian as the two men briefly spoke at a reception in Ankara that followed the presidential inauguration. Nalbandian’s press office reported no other details of the conversation.

Sarkisian first publicly extended the invitation in May, three months before the Turkish presidential election. In televised remarks, he urged the winner of the ballot to visit Yerevan on April 24, 2014 and “face up to telling testimonies of the history of the Armenian Genocide.”

Sarkisian said on August 23 that Nalbandian “will learn” on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony whether Erdogan will accept the invitation. A statement on Nalbandian’s trip to Ankara released by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said nothing about that. Turkish officials have given no indications as to whether or not the new Turkish president is ready for what would be a historic trip to Armenia.

Sarkisian’s decision to dispatch his foreign minister to Erdogan’s swearing-in has prompted criticism from Armenia’s main opposition parties. Hovannes Sahakian, a senior lawmaker from Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia, defended the move on Friday, saying that Armenia needs to keep channels of communication with its big neighbor open.

“We are at the same time showing that we have not forgotten and will not let others forget the 1915 Armenian Genocide,” Sahakian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “The handing of the letter [to Erdogan] should be looked at from this standpoint.”

“We don’t pin much hope on Turkey’s president,” he said. “There has to be international pressure [over genocide recognition.] Or maybe Turkey will evolve so much that it will do what Germany did about the Holocaust.”

Photographs of the Ankara reception released by the Foreign Ministry show Nalbandian also chatting with Turkey’s newly appointed Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who until now served as foreign minister. The two men most recently held talks when Davutoglu visited Yerevan in December 2013 for an international ministerial conference. They made no progress towards the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, which Ankara continues to link to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Another photograph shows Nalbandian sitting next to Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s incoming new foreign minister, at an official dinner in Ankara. Cavusoglu had a tense rapport with the Armenian authorities when he served as president of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) from 2010-2012.

Cavusoglu faced allegations of anti-Armenian bias after he tried to revive an Azerbaijan-backed PACE “subcommittee” dealing the Karabakh dispute. Armenian members of the PACE claimed at the time that their Turkish and Azerbaijani colleagues want to use the panel for lobbying for a pro-Azerbaijani solution to the dispute. Cavusoglu rejected those allegations during a May 2010 visit to Yerevan.

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8 Comments

  1. Armenian said:

    At first I decried the move, but now I think it might be beneficial for us. It puts Turkey in an awkward position, and whether they choose to come or not will be beneficial for generating more buzz about the genocide, and effectively puts the ball in their court on a very international level. Not only that, but I’m sure Nalbandyan’s presence and delivery of the letter also generated some chatter in Turkey’s media, keeping the event present in their modern consciousness. Maybe going to Erdogan’s inauguration wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

  2. Hrant A. said:

    It is regrettable that President Sarkisian insists on continuing with his “football diplomacy”. It will result in a diplomatic fiasco. President Erdogan will use the opportunity to mourn wartime victims of both Armenians and Turks. He will definitely use the occasion to confuse the issue to his advantage.

  3. Vartan Khachadourian said:

    Instead of trying to outsmart turks, let’s see what we can learn from there wisdom…

  4. Hratch said:

    Great move. Obviously Erdogan will refuse and be on the defensive. Finally some diplomatic savviness from our side!

  5. Nubar said:

    This is Politics and Diplomacy. A Volleyball was sent into Armenia’s Court. Now there’s a Basketball in Turkey’s Court.

    “WHAT SAY YOU”?????

  6. Dennis R Papazian said:

    You must take chances if you want to succeed. Doing nothing is no longer an alternative. Erdogan is an enigma, so we must go with the flow. He may be another Charles de Gaulle or another Anwar Sadat.

  7. vartan said:

    THERE IS NO ROOM FOR GENOCIDE DENIERS IN ARMENIA, THE CURRENT LEADERSHIP OF ARMENIA IS UNAWER OR TO NAIVE TO INTERNATIONAL POLITIC. STOP BE CRYING VICTIM, SHOW SOME STREINHGT AND POLITICAL WILL AND CRAFTMANSHIP. EREEGAN WILL NOT TRAVEL TO ARMENIA AND CONFESS TO THEIR ATROCITIES COMMITED BY THEIR FOREFATHERS.

  8. Baron's said:

    If you ask me …this was a brilliant move by Armenia…publicly embarrassing the New Turkish President Dictator…..well done Armenia. God Bless Armenia Always

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