Turkish-Armenian relations tense over 100th anniversary of Armenian genocide

Turkish-Armenian relations tense over 100th anniversary of Armenian genocide
2 min read
17 February, 2015
The Armenian president has withdrawn several parts of a normalisation agreement between the two countries, as rhetoric heats up between the capitals.
Sargsyan has been highly critical of his Turkish counterpart [AFP]
Tensions between Armenia and Turkey have risen again as a political row stirs up long-held animosity between the neighbouring nations.

At the centre of the latest row is a threat to a groundbreaking deal between the two countries, first drawn up in 2009, aimed at restoring ties between Ankara and Yerevan.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has asked the speaker of the National Assembly to withdraw several protocols from the agreement, which currently under consideration by the country's lawmakers.

Sargsyan said Armenia would not ratify the agreement because of the preconditions Turkey stipulated before it will ratify its part of the agreement.

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The agreement, which was brokered by the US and other countries, aims to restore diplomatic ties between the countries and reopen their common border, closed since 1993.

The president's request comes a few months before the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, in which more than a million Armenians living in what is now eastern Turkey were massacred by the Ottoman Empire.

We have no tradition of visiting a guest without receiving a response to our own invitation
- Serzh Sargsyan, president of Armenia

In January 2015, tensions flared between Turkey and Armenia after Sargsyan turned down an invitation by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to participate in ceremonies marking the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli in Canakkale.

The ceremonies in Canakkale were rearranged this year to April 24, to coincide with Armenia's traditional day of remembrance for the Armenian victims of 1915.

Erdogan reportedly sent invitations to 102 leaders, including Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and US President Barack Obama.

In his reponse to Erdogan, Sargsyan recalled his invitation to the Turkish president to attend the 100th anniversary commemoration of the 1915 genocide of Armenians.

"Your Excellency, a few months ago, I invited you to visit Yerevan on April 24, 2015, to honour the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide together," Sargsyan said in the letter.

"We have no tradition of visiting a guest without receiving a response to our own invitation," Sargsyan wrote.

Sargsyan also criticised Turkey's "traditional policy of denial", questioning the timing of the Gallipoli event. "The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli for the first time this year falls on 24 April, yet it started on March 18, 1915, and continued till the end of January 1916," wrote the Armenian president.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.