Erdogan Invites World Leaders to Turkey to Commemorate Gallipoli Centennial on April 24
YEREVAN—President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday responded to an invitation from his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who announced Thursday that he would be inviting world leaders to Turkey on April 24 to mark the centennial of the Battle of Gallipoli, reported the Armenpress news agency.
Erdogan made his intentions known to public during a joint press conference Thursday with Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev who is on an official visit to Turkey.
“On April 24, the day that the Armenian Diaspora has dedicated to commemorate the so-called Armenian Genocide, world leaders will gather in Turkey to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli,” Erdogan said that joint press conference.
In a response made public on Friday by the presidential press service, Sarkisain rejected Erdogan’s invitation, saying that the day coincides with the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, which was committed by the Ottoman Empire.
Below is the text of the letter to Erdogan provided by the presidential press service.
“Dear Mr. President,
I received your invitation to participate in the commemoration ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli. Armenian artilleryman, Captain Sargis Torosyan joined the troops of the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Gallipoli and was an officer who was self-dedicated to ensuring the defense and security of the Empire. That same year, the wave of massacres and forceful deportations planned and perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian people also led to the death of even Sargis Torosyan. It was as a result of that unprecedented massacre that Rafael Lemkin coined the term “genocide”, and it was the impunity of that crime that prepared ground for the Holocaust and the genocides in Ruanda, Cambodia and Darfur. Leaving aside the significance of the Battle of Gallipoli or Turkey’s disputed role during WWI and WWII, we need to remember that peace and friendship must first be hinged on the courage to confront one&r squo;s own past, historical justice and universal memory. Alas, Turkey continues its conventional denial policy and is “perfecting” its instrumentation for distorting history. This time Turkey is marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli on April 24, but the battle began on March 18, 1915 and lasted until late January 1916, after which the allies’ operation started on April 25. What is the purpose if not to distract the world’s attention from the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide? I would advise you to remember in your calls for world peace to make a call to the world to recognize the Armenian Genocide and commemorate the 1.5 million innocent victims. Each of us has a duty to transmit the real story to the future generations and prevent the repetition of crimes and prepare ground for the rapprochement and future cooperation between peoples, especially neighboring peoples.
P.S. Your Excellency, a couple of months ago, I invited you to Yerevan to respect the memory of the innocent martyrs of the Armenian Genocide together on April 24, 2015. Armenians don’t accept being hosted by the guest without receiving a response to the guest’s invitation.”
According to the Hurriyet Daily News, in marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, the Turkish government will organize ceremonies with the participation of 8,500 Australians and 2,000 New Zealanders. The U.K.’s Prince Charles and his two sons, and the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand, are expected to take part in commemorations.
A day before the April 24 ceremonies in Çanakkale, the government is planning to host a reception and a “Summit of Peace” in Istanbul on April 23, the day when Turkey marks the 95th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Parliament.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has signed invitation letters to his counterparts, while President Erdogan has sent letters to the heads of state, accompanied by the message, “We would be delighted to have you with us on the 100th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Gallipoli.”
During Thursday’s press conference, Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan, emphasizing that “Ankara will continue to back Azerbaijan on the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” reported the Today’s Zaman newspaper.
“I would like to mention this once again: we will continue to extend our support for Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict so that it finds its solution in the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan,” Erdoğan said in a joint press conference held with his Azerbaijani counterpart in Ankara on Thursday.
Erdogan also said that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group, tasked with negotiating a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has failed in its mission.
“Turkey is extremely sensitive towards this issue and as Turkey, our position is explicit. It is not possible at all that we will step back from this point [backing Azerbaijan],” Erdogan said stressing the importance of the strategic partnership between Turkey and Azerbaijan in both defense and energy realms.
“Azerbaijan will be strong as long as Turkey is powerful,” Aliyev said, extending his gratitude to Ankara’s continuing support in what he called “justice and international law,” referring to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.