Turkish president Erdoğan said today that the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli be commemorated on April 24 this year, adding ‘leaders from 30 nations will be present there.’
The issue has now turned into a deliberate clash between Turkey and Armenia over commemorating 100th anniversary of the WW1 in Turkey and the Armenian Genocide, on the same day.
Here are some excerpts of Tom de Waal’s blog on the issue.
In six weeks’ time, on April 24, Armenia and Turkey will hold competing centennial commemorations, each studying the international guest list to see who did and did not come.
It is a political row that could easily have been avoided if the Turkish government had moved its ceremony honoring the Battle of Gallipoli only one day later, to April 25. It has been obvious for many years that on April 24 Armenians will commemorate the centenary of the tragedy of 1915 they now know as the Armenian Genocide.
They first marked that day in 1919 in British-administered Istanbul. In 1915, April 24 was the day that 200 Armenian leaders and intellectuals were arrested by the Ottoman authorities as a prelude to the mass deportation and partial destruction of the entire Armenian population of the empire.
The following day, April 25, 1915, British imperial forces, along with men from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps or ANZAC in the forefront, landed at Gallipoli to try and capture Istanbul and defeat the Ottoman empire. Thousands of soldiers died. Very soon April 25 was known as ANZAC day.
April 25 was therefore the obvious day to hold international commemorations for the Gallipoli battles.
Another possible date would have been March 18, the day in 1915 when the Allied force first sailed up the Straits and began the campaign.
However, current Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chose to hold the Gallipoli centennial ceremonies on April 24, precipitating a direct clash with the commemorations in Yerevan. The obvious conclusion is that this was a direct attempt to divert attention and guests from the Armenian commemorations.
By doing this, Erdoğan undid some of the good work he had done last year by issuing the first ever statement of condolences to the Armenians by a Turkish leader.