Turkey, Armenia should leave genocide row for now: PM advisor

Davutoglu’s advisor: ‘I believe symbolic steps could be taken this year and a more emotional relationship could be established’

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Turkey and Armenia should not expect to resolve a long-running dispute over the mass killing of Armenians in World War I on the 100th anniversary of the tragedy in 2015, a top adviser to the prime minister said.

Armenia and its diaspora want Turkey to recognize the mass killings of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 as genocide, something Turkey has so far vehemently resisted.

Etyen Mahcupyan, who is himself a member of Turkey’s Armenian minority, told AFP in an interview that 2015 would be a “tough year” because of the anniversary and major breakthroughs would have to wait for later.

“I believe symbolic steps could be taken this year and a more emotional relationship could be established,” said Mahcupyan, who is a senior adviser to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

“But I believe more political or historical issues will be left to the coming years and then it will be easier,” he added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered an unprecedented expression of condolence for the massacres in April when he was still prime minister, describing the killings as “our shared pain.”

But this went nowhere near far enough for Armenians, who want the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million people recognized as a campaign of genocide ordered by the top security leadership of the Ottoman Empire from 1915-1916.

Mahcupyan, one of very few Armenians to have held a government post, said the priority for the future should be establishing relations with Armenia as well as the millions-strong diaspora, many of whom harbor a deep hatred of Turkey.

“I don’t think we need to hurry 100 years on. What happens later on should proceed more healthily,” he said.

Armenia will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacres on April 24, the date when in 1915 hundreds of Armenians were rounded up and later massacred in Constantinople (now Istanbul) marking the start of the killings.

Pointing to the striking “rapprochement” in relations between Russia and Turkey over the last months, Mahcupyan said Moscow could play a role “that facilitates this issue,” he said.

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