Armenia Commemorates Centenary of Mass Ottoman Killings
Armenia marks on Friday the centenary of the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians with commemorative ceremonies across the country.
Flowers were laid and a minute of silence was observed at the Armenian Genocide Memorial near Yerevan, the BBC reports.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan expressed his gratitude to those attending the commemorative ceremony, who reaffirmed their commitment to human values.
Among the world leaders attending the commemorative ceremony near Yerevan are Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Francois Hollande.
German President Joachim Gauck described the killings as genocide on Thursday, while his US counterpart Barack Obama issued a carefully worded statement, refraining to use the term.
Turkey, which denies that the mass killings carried out by the Ottoman Empire constituted a genocide, will also hold a commemorative ceremony to pay tribute to the Armenian victims.
Turkey will also host parallel ceremonies on Friday, which will mark the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli.
However Armenian President Sargsyan accused Turkey of diverting the world attention from the Yerevan commemorations as the Battle of Gallipoli actually had started on April 25.
April 24 commemorates the arrest of Armenian intellectuals by the Ottoman authorities in Constantinople in 1915, most of whom were later killed, and marks the beginning of the mass extermination of Christian Armenians.
On the eve of the centenary on Thursday, the Armenian Church canonised what it describes as the 1.5 million victims of the mass killings.
The West has renewed calls on Turkey to recognise the mass killings as constituting a genocide, a claim which Ankara has consistently denied.
Pope Francis recently described the killings as “the first genocide of the 20th century”, while the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on Turkey to recognise the crimes as genocide.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu paid tribute to the victims, but refrained from describing the events as constituting a genocide.
Turkey maintains that the number of the victims is exaggerated and many Ottoman Armenians were killed in clashes during the First World War.
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