Armenia and Turkey may be approaching an understanding on their troubled shared history, but memories of mass-killings still loom large over relations between the two countries.
In a day of remembrance Armenia has been honouring the victims of what it says was genocide by Ottoman Turks in World War One. Turkey denies that as many as 1.5 million Armenians died and says that the mass-killings were part of a wider conflict that claimed the lives of many Turks as well. It has been the biggest source of hostility between the two countries for nearly a century. However, in an historic agreement on the eve of today’s commemoration, both agreed on a road map to normalise ties. It is a first step along what is expected to be a long path to reconciliation. “I welcome the fact that our countries are moving closer,” one student said. “But it’s unacceptable that our leaders can forget the genocide and forget what the Turks have done to our great-grandfathers. I can’t understand how they can sign an accord and forget the genocide.” Diplomatic sources say that the road map has yet to be signed, but add that it sets a timeframe for the establishment of relations and the opening of borders. It also plans for a special historical commission to consider Armenia’s genocide claims. But the issue is also complicated by Turkey’s relations with Azerbaijan, which Ankara supported when Armenian-backed separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away 1993. An Azeri backlash could derail the Armenia deal.