MOSCOW—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declined an invitation from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to attend ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II, in an apparent diplomatic reprisal against the Russian leader’s decision to recognize the Armenian Genocide last month, the Hürriyet Daily News reports.
Russian diplomatic sources told Hürriyet on May 5 that Turkey would be represented by Ambassador Ümit Yardım at the May 9 Victory Day Parade in Moscow.
Upon a question from a Russian journalist, Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek said during his visit to Moscow on April 15 that he “was sure that President [Erdogan] would try to come” to Moscow for the ceremony.
“April 24, 1915 is a melancholy date, related to one of the most horrendous and dramatic events in human history, the genocide of the Armenian people,” Putin said in a letter to the World Without Genocide commemorative event on April 23, the text of which was also posted on the Kremlin website. Furthermore, the Duma voted on April 24 to pass a resolution that described the 1915 massacres and deportations as genocide.
Putin and French President François Hollande were among the leaders to join the commemorations in Armenia’s capital Yerevan on April 24 to mark the 100th anniversary.
After the Turkish Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Putin and the Duma, President Erdogan personally dove into the issue.
“We wish that Mr. Putin and Mr. Hollande had not gone to Armenia [on April 24]. Two heads of states went there [in Yerevan]. Thank God, 20 heads of state came to us,” Erdogan said. The Gallipoli celebrations in Turkey scheduled deliberately on April 24, however, were seen largely as a failure in the domestic and international press, with few high-profile attendees.
Diplomatic sources in Moscow told Hürriyet that Putin’s invitation was conveyed to Ankara in March, but Putin’s stance on the Armenian Genocide prompted Turkey to decline it.