ANKARA (Combined Sources)—Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with Turkey’s diplomats in North America on Wednesday to relay orders for the envoys to start “opening dialogue” with certain Armenian Diaspora groups in the United States and Canada, the Turkish Today’s Zaman newspaper reported.
The Turkish Foreign Minister met with Ankara’s ambassadors to Washington and Ottawa, as well as the Consul Generals of Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Toronto. He told the diplomats to “engage in dialogue with the Armenian Diaspora and to strengthen this dialogue.”
According to anonymous diplomatic sources quoted by the Anatolian News Agency, Turkey would prioritize contact with Armenian groups who are open to dialogue. The same sources indicated that dialogue with “hard-line groups” was not a priority for Turkey, at least at the moment.
“It is impossible to finalize the normalization of bilateral relations with Armenia without having the Diaspora involved in the process,” Davutolgu said, according to diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, the Anatolia News Agency reported.
Davutoglu, meanwhile, told reporters Wednesday that Turks and Armenians “in Paris and Boston” should sit together and attempt to reconcile their memories of what the Turks call the tragic events that took place in 1915.
In 1915 the Ottoman Turkish government set out to annihilate the indigenous Armenian population inhabiting the lands under its dominion. Between 1915-1923, the government executed a systematic campaign to exterminate the Armenian people and remove them from their historic homeland.
The Armenian Genocide, recognized as the first genocide of the 20th century by historians the world over, resulted in the death of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians and the loss of millions of dollars in property and land now under occupation by the Republic of Turkey.
Turkey, however, insists there was no crime and the murders were merely terrible deaths resulting from the collapse of an empire.
“We made some outreach to the American Diaspora,” he said in remarks that appeared to reference the Boston area as home to a large Armenian community. “We told them ‘Our archives are open. We are ready to discuss everything.’”
Davutoglu said that members of the Turkish parliament have discussed passing a resolution condemning the US genocide against Native Americans in retaliation for the bill in Congress, but that he has not encouraged such a measure.
“You can create a success story out of history,” he said. “You can create hatreds as well.”
He said that Turkey had reached out to neighboring Armenia with signs of friendship and he remains hopeful that the Turkish parliament will eventually pass a law that will help normalize relations, although he said he is not sure if there are enough votes yet.
“As Turkey, we are ready to share the pain of our Armenian neighbors,” he said.
But his comments fell far short of the acknowledgment of suffering that millions of Armenians want to hear.