Sun, Apr 24, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Armenians urge Turkey to own up to 1915 massacre


International pressure on Turkey to recognize the 1915 massacre of more than one million Armenians as genocide is mounting on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the start of the killings.

As Armenians worldwide prepare to commemorate the murders today amid hopes that the US president, George W. Bush, will use the term genocide for the first time to describe the massacres -- Ankara faced growing calls to own up to the slaughter. Armenia's foreign minister, Vardan Oskanyan, said, "Without recognition of the fact of genocide and an admission that it was wrong, we cannot trust our neighbor, which has a tangible military weight."

Up to 1.5 million Armenians may have died as part of a plot hatched by Ottoman Turks to ethnically cleanse the region during the First World War.

An American diplomat at the time reported seeing Ottoman soldiers and Kurdish tribesmen "sweeping the countryside, massacring men, women and children and burning their homes. Babies were shot in their mothers' arms, small children were horribly mutilated, women were stripped and beaten."

The calls on Ankara to face up to its past have cast a shadow over the country's efforts to join the EU. Increasing numbers of EU politicians are demanding that Turkey accept that almost all of its Christian Armenian community died.

Speculation has been rife in the Turkish press that Bush will endorse the description of genocide in his annual statement condemning the massacres.

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