Turkey's President Abdullah Gul has said he disagrees with parts of U.S. President Barack Obama's statement the previous day on the mass killings of Armenians in 1915, adding hundreds of thousands of Turks and Muslims also died.
Obama avoided using the word "genocide" when describing the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915, and welcomed efforts by Turkey and Armenia to normalize relations.
Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks but denies that up to 1.5 million died and that it amounted to genocide.
In Turkey's first official reaction to the statement, Gul said: "There are points on which I disagree. Hundreds of thousands of Turks and Muslims also died in 1915. Everyone's pain must be shared," according to state-run news agency Anatolian.
Obama said in Europe he's trying to avoid getting in the way of the patchup between Turkey and Armenia:
President Barack Obama avoided using the word genocide on April 24 when describing mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 and welcomed efforts by Turkey and Armenia to normalize relations.
As a presidential candidate, Obama, who took office in January, had described the killings of Armenians as genocide, but he referred to them as "atrocities" on April 24.
"Ninety four years ago, one of the great atrocities of the 20th century began," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "Each year, we pause to remember the 1.5 million Armenians who were subsequently massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire."
Despite his careful word choice, Obama said his position on the killings had not altered.
"I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed," he said. "My interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts."
Obama's full statement:
Ninety four years ago, one of the great atrocities of the 20th century began. Each year, we pause to remember the 1.5 million Armenians who were subsequently massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. The Meds Yeghern must live on in our memories, just as it lives on in the hearts of the Armenian people.
History, unresolved, can be a heavy weight. Just as the terrible events of 1915 remind us of the dark prospect of man’s inhumanity to man, reckoning with the past holds out the powerful promise of reconciliation. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. My interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts.
The best way to advance that goal right now is for the Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as a part of their efforts to move forward. I strongly support efforts by the Turkish and Armenian people to work through this painful history in a way that is honest, open, and constructive. To that end, there has been courageous and important dialogue among Armenians and Turks, and within Turkey itself. I also strongly support the efforts by Turkey and Armenia to normalize their bilateral relations. Under Swiss auspices, the two governments have agreed on a framework and roadmap for normalization. I commend this progress, and urge them to fulfill its promise.
Together, Armenia and Turkey can forge a relationship that is peaceful, productive and prosperous. And together, the Armenian and Turkish people will be stronger as they acknowledge their common history and recognize their common humanity.
Nothing can bring back those who were lost in the Meds Yeghern. But the contributions that Armenians have made over the last ninety-four years stand as a testament to the talent, dynamism and resilience of the Armenian people, and as the ultimate rebuke to those who tried to destroy them. The United States of America is a far richer country because of the many Americans of Armenian descent who have contributed to our society, many of whom immigrated to this country in the aftermath of 1915. Today, I stand with them and with Armenians everywhere with a sense of friendship, solidarity, and deep respect.