Counterpoint: ‘We remember all those who lost their lives’

SHARE Counterpoint: ‘We remember all those who lost their lives’

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu gestures to children of varying nationalities in traditional costumes during a Children’s Festival in Ankara on Tuesday.

During the last years of the Ottoman Empire, a very large number of Ottoman citizens from different ethnic and religious backgrounds endured great suffering, leaving deep scars in their memories. They had lived together for centuries in peace and harmony.


As descendants of nations with different ethnic and religious origins who endured these sufferings amid the conditions of the First World War, we understand what the Armenians feel. We remember with respect the innocent Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives and offer our deep condolences to their descendants.

It is both a historical and humane duty for Turkey to uphold the memory of Ottoman Armenians and the Armenian cultural heritage.

With this in mind, a religious ceremony will be held by the Armenian Patriarchate on April 24 and Ottoman Armenians will be remembered in Turkey, just as they will be across the world.

On this day, it would have been much more meaningful if Turkey and Armenia had been able to commemorate Ottoman Armenians together with a ceremony that befits both nations.

We believe that when history is no longer exploited for political purposes, such a mature and morally sound outcome can be attained.

Ancient Anatolian civilization teaches us to stand up for our history, to remember both our joys and pains, to heal our wounds collectively and to look to the future together.

As a consequence of our historical responsibilities and humane mission, and without making any distinction among those who suffered, we respectfully remember today all those who lost their lives in those events that transpired a century ago.

We also believe that, in order to ease the ongoing suffering, it is just as important to face the past with honesty, as it is to remember the deceased.

It is possible to establish the causes of what happened in World War I and those who were responsible for it.

However, laying all blame — through generalizations — on the Turkish nation by reducing everything to one word and to compound this with hate speech is both morally and legally problematic.

The scars left by the exile and massacres that Turkish and Muslim Ottomans were subjected to a century ago are still vivid in our minds today.

To ignore this fact and discriminate between pains suffered is as questionable historically as it is mistaken morally. . . . The memories and convictions of all Ottoman citizens must be heard and respected.

We once more commemorate with deep respect the Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives during the relocation in 1915 and we share in the grief of their children and grandchildren.

This is an excerpt, edited for space, from a statement by Turkey Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

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