The Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised a public apology by some 200 Turkish intellectuals for the killing of ethnic Armenians during World War One. An internet campaign has been gathering signatures from Turks wanting to offer a personal apology. It has angered the prime minister. “I don’t accept the campaign that they have started and I don’t support it,” Erdogan said. “I cannot be part of it. I have not committed a crime. Why should I apologise?”
Turkey and Armenia have been working re-establish diplomatic ties. Turkish President, Abdullah Gul, recently went to Armenia in a bid to end 100 years of hostility. The internet campaign does not use the term genocide, vehemently denied by the Turks. It uses massacre instead. But nationalists still say it is an act of national betrayal. Recognition in the West of the term genocide, in relation to around 1.5 million deaths in Armenia between 1915 and 1917, caused uproar in Turkey. It does officially accept that many Armenians were killed during the waning years of the Ottoman empire, but strongly denies genocide. Eleven thousand people have so far signed the online petition.