February 19, 2007 / 9:01 AM / in 12 years

Armenia ready for ties with Turkey

PARIS (Reuters) - Armenia is ready to establish diplomatic ties with Turkey without preconditions and create a joint government commission to discuss Armenian deaths at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915, which Yerevan says was genocide.

A general view of the memorial site commemorating the dead of the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in Yerevan in a file photo. Armenia is ready to establish diplomatic ties with Turkey without preconditions and create a joint government commission to discuss Armenian deaths at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915, which Yerevan says was genocide. REUTERS/Photolure

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan rejected Turkey’s offer to set up a joint panel of historians to debate the issue, using an interview in the daily Le Figaro on Monday to call on Ankara to accept his suggestion of an intergovernmental commission.

Turkey denies accusations that some 1.5 million Armenians were massacred during the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire in World War One, arguing that Armenian deaths were part of general partisan fighting in which both sides suffered.

“The normalisation of bilateral relations is the responsibility of governments, not historians,” said Kocharyan, who begins an official visit to France on Monday.

“That is why we are ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without preconditions, create an intergovernmental commission and to discuss all issues, including the most sensitive,” he added.

In October, the lower house of the French parliament provoked Turkish ire by passing a bill making it a crime to deny Armenians suffered genocide in 1915, a vote Ankara said would damage ties between the two NATO allies.

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