As Armenians are gearing up to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has “mistakenly” published a picture of the Armenian Genocide Monument amidst a collage of photos in a 2015 calendar.
The Foreign Ministry has scrambled to distance itself from the photo and an official has said that an investigation has been undertaken to determine how such an error was possible, assuring that the person responsible will be punished.
The official also vigorously denied that the photograph is part of a new policy of “openness” toward Armenia, and added that most of the calendars have not yet been distributed.
The photograph in question is of the “Monument to the Armenian Genocide” erected in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, and the picture included in an official calendar prepared to commemorate the Battle of Çanakkale (the Dardanelles Campaign), fought by Turkey against allied forces during the First World War. For months the Ottoman troops successfully repelled Allied forces, who eventually had to withdraw to Egypt.
This is Turkey’s second major blunder concerning Armenia in just weeks. Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invited world leaders, including Armenian President Serzh Sarkysian, to participate in festivities to be held in Turkey to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli on April 24. That is the very day when Armenians have been preparing an international event dedicated to the memory of the Armenian victims.
On Thursday, Turkish President Erdoğan stated that Ankara is “ready to pay for any misdeed” if an “impartial board of historians” concludes that it was at fault for the events of 1915, though he continues to vehemently deny that any genocide was committed.
“We are not obliged to accept that the so-called Armenian genocide was ‘made-to-order,’” he said.
Erdoğan also said that while he was prime minister, he had sent a letter to former Armenian President Robert Kocharian, proposing that impartial historians investigate the 1915 killings of Anatolian Armenians during the Ottoman era.
Earlier this month, Erdoğan stated that he would “actively” challenge a campaign to pressure Turkey to recognize the massacres as genocide.
Pope Francis has announced that he will celebrated a Mass of commemoration of the Armenian slaughter in the Vatican on April 12, and has called it the first in a series of genocides in the 20th century.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.