ANKARA (AFP)–Turkey has formally proposed to Armenia the creation of a joint commission to study "allegations of genocide against the Armenia’s under the Ottoman Empire," as a first step towards normalizing relations–Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said in Ankara on Wednesday.
The proposal was outlined in a recent letter by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Armenian President Robert Kocharian–Gul told parliament during a special session on a damaging Armenian campaign for the recognition of the World War I massacres as genocide.
"We informed them that if our proposal is accepted–we are ready to negotiate with Armenia on how the commission will be established–how it will work–and that such an initiative will serve to normalize relations between the two countries."
"I repeat this appeal once again… Turkey is ready to face its history–Turkey has no problem with its history," Gul said. "There should be an open discussion on allegations that the Ottoman Empire committed acts of genocide against its Armenian citizens during World War One."
Erdogan also warned that there were some for whom detailed evidence would not change their views.
"Medicine has yet to find a cure for those who do not want to open their eyes to history," Erdogan said.
Turkey has refused to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia’since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991 because of Armenian efforts to secure international condemnation of the massacres as genocide.
In 1993–Turkey shut its border with Armenia in a show of solidarity with its close ally Azerbaijan–which was at war with Armenia over the Mountainous Karabagh enclave.
Gul urged the international community to press Armenia to accept Turkey’s proposal for a joint study.
Turning to another issue that has dominated the news in Turkey in the past week–the Prime Minister criticizes the attempted lynching in Trabzon last week of five activists distributing leaflets calling for reforms in Turkey’s prisons.
People do not have the right to take justice into their own hands–even when citing love of one’s country as the motive–Erdogan said.
He stressed that creating internal enemies and citing differences within a nation would damage the notion of nation.
The five people who were attacked in Trabzon and later detained by the police for distributing the leaflets were released on Wednesday.