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Turkish PM offers first condolences for Armenian massacre

Published on Apr 24, 2014 6:55 AM
Armenians take part in a gathering to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Ottoman Turkish genocide against the Armenian people, in the Lebanese capital Beirut on April 23, 2014. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered condolences over the massacre of Armenians almost 100 years ago, describing the events of World War I as "our shared pain". -- PHOTO: AFP

ANKARA (AFP) - Turkey's Prime Minister offered his condolences on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, over the massacre of Armenians during World War I, calling it "our shared pain", the country's most significant overture yet over the deeply divisive episode.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statement, on the eve of the 99th anniversary of the start of mass deportations of Armenians in 1915, is the first such overt comment by a Turkish leader over the killings, considered by many as the first genocide of the 20th century.

He acknowledged that the events of 1915 had "inhumane consequences" but also said it was "inadmissable" for them to be used as an excuse today for hostility against Turkey.

"The incidents of the First World War are our shared pain," said Mr Erdogan in what Turkish media described as an unexpected statement that was issued in several languages, including Armenian.

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