Turkey and Armenia held talks in Moscow, Russia, on Friday. The two countries are seeking to normalize relations and reopen borders.
Turkey and Armenia have not been linked diplomatically or commercially for the past three decades. This is the first attempt to rebuild relations since a failed peace accord in 2009.
The nations’ relationship has been historically strained over a number of issues, most significantly the 1915 Armenian genocide which caused the death of 1.5 million Armenians at the hand of the Ottoman Empire.
Despite the massive loss of life that occurred, Turkey still does not acknowledge these 1915 killings as a genocide, but rather admits that Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire died at the hands of Ottoman forces.
The Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides
An organized plan to eliminate the indigenous Greek population of Asia Minor, it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, expulsions, executions, and the wholesale destruction of Eastern Orthodox cultural, historical, and religious monuments.
The Turks feared that the Greek-speaking Christian population would welcome liberation by the Ottoman Empire’s enemies.
At the same time, the nationalist Turks believed in the creation of a modern nation without strong, influential ethnic and religious minorities; this was one of the main factors that led to the Greek genocide.
At the outbreak of World War I, there were many minorities that had been living in Asia Minor long before the creation of the Ottoman Empire, including Greeks, Pontic Greeks, Caucasus Greeks, Cappadocian Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Jews, and others.
The Ottoman Empire was in rapid decline, headed by the Committee of Union and Progress (“CUP”). The CUP were, among other things, proponents of Turkish nationalism.
When the Ottomans joined the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1914, the stage was set for the first genocide of the twentieth century.
Using Christian rebels colluding with the Russian Army as a pretext, the Ottoman government announced a policy of property confiscation and deportations against the Christian minorities of the empire — first among them being the Armenians.
The extermination of the Armenian population in 1915 was the first atrocity paving the way for the Greek genocide that culminated in 1923, after the Burning of Smyrna.
Most historians date the final decision to exterminate the Armenian population to the end of March or early April in 1915.
Turkish Minister of War Enver Pasha took over command of the Ottoman armies for the invasion of Russian territory and tried to encircle the Russian Caucasus Army at the Battle of Sarikamish, which took place from December 1914 to January 1915.