ANKARA – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called for an unbiased study by historians of claims that millions of Armenians were the victims of genocide under Ottoman rule during World War I.
“We have already opened our archives to those who claim there was genocide. If they are sincere, they should also open their archives,” Erdogan told a press conference here after talks with opposition leader Deniz Baykal.
That would allow historians to work on documents each side has to determine what happened, he said.
“If there is a need for a political settling of accounts with history after such a study, we, the government and the opposition, are ready to do just that,” Erdogan added.
He said that there were also plans for the Turkish parliament to issue a declaration on the genocide claims.
Turkey categorically denies the allegations, but has recently been facing increasing calls from within the European Union which it hopes to join that it accept the killings of Armenians as genocide.
Some EU politicans have said that the genocide claims will be one of the issues Turkey has to deal with as it prepares to begin lengthy membership talks on October 3 to join the EU.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen were massacred in orchestrated killings nine decades ago during the last years of the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey.
Turkey, on the other hand, argues that 300,000 Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed in what was civil strife during World War I when the Armenians rose against their Ottoman rulers.
03/08/2005 19:02 GMT
AFP and Turkish Press