Turkey must recognize Armenian massacres – Turkish mayor

584781.jpgMayor of the Turkish city of Diyarbakir Osman Baydemir met with Armenian and Turkish journalists in his office.

Member of Kurdish Peace and Democracy party, Baydemir noted that meeting with the Armenian journalists is one of the happiest days during his 7 years’ tenure, the Armenian News-NEWS.am correspondent reports from Diyarbakir. Mayor recalled that about 100 years ago the city was deprived of its wealth after Armenians and Assyrians were displaced forcedly.

“Diyarbakir is not only a Muslim city. St. Giragos, the Virgin Mary Church and other churches are located here. City’s architecture has Armenian and Assyrian elements. I dream of a city that would have merged the voice of mullah and ringing of [church] bells. Therefore, we started reconstruction of the Middle East’s largest Christian church,” he said.

One of the Turkish journalists asked about steps the city council takes to discuss and study the Armenian Genocide of 1915, as a large number of Armenians left the city then.

“It was a great tragedy. Unfortunately, the younger generation, mostly in western Turkey, did not realize what had happened. If Turkey manages to face facts that occurred during the Kurdish uprisings of 1915, it will be possible to face bright future,” he said. “We believe that one practical action is better than thousand statements. We are guided by this approach and landscaped the Armenian cemetery and are restoring church”

All nationalities populating Diyarbakir, including Armenians, Yazidis, and Assyrians will be represented in the museum which is being constructed in the city, he added.

Another Turkish journalist asked Baydemir about mayor’s assistance to normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations.

“As mayor of Diyarbakir, I would like to show maximum activity and initiative. We should not forget that Armenians lived in this region, both in Mesopotamia and in Anatolia, for long time. It is unacceptable that the relationships have not been normalized yet,” he said. “Present generation is not to blame for what happened, but is obliged to say: yes, there was a massacre, and we are sorry about this. However, my words are not enough. It should be stated by prime minister, president and parliament. Then we will go to Yerevan to lay flowers at the Monument to Armenian Genocide victims and normalization will start.”