Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
Jan 16 2015

Deniz Zeyrek

As part of Ankara's charm offensive ahead of the centennial anniversary
of the mass killings of Anatolian Armenians, President Recep Tayyip
Erdoðan has taken the unprecedented diplomatic step of extending an
invitation to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to ceremonies marking
the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli in Canakkale in late April,
which coincides with the Armenian remembrance day.

With plans to hold massive ceremonies to mark the centenary of
the Battle of Gallipoli on April 23 and 24, Erdoðan has sent out
invitations to the leaders of 102 countries, including Armenian
President Sargsyan and U.S. President Barack Obama.

The ANZAC Troops (Australia-New Zealand Army Corps) disembarked onto
the shores of Canakkkale on April 25, 1915 in a bid to destroy Turkish
artillery units, but were defeated in bloody combat that continued
until December 1915. Ever since, Australians and New Zealanders
have commemorated the Battle of Gallipoli on April 25, on the date
of the first landing, and on Aug 6 to Aug 10, the second landing of
the ANZAC troops.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the battle for Turkey, Australia and
New Zealand, the Turkish government is set to organize ceremonies with
the participation of 8,500 Australians and 2,000 New Zealanders. The
U.K.'s Prince Charles and his two sons, and the prime ministers of
Australia and New Zealand, are expected to take part in commemorations.

A day before the April 24 ceremonies in Canakkale, the government
is planning to host a reception and a "Summit of Peace" in Istanbul
on April 23, the day when Turkey marks the 95th anniversary of the
foundation of the Turkish Parliament.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoðlu has signed invitation letters
to his counterparts, while President Erdoðan has sent letters to the
heads of state, accompanied by the message, "We would be delighted
to have you with us on the 100th anniversary commemorations of the
Battle of Gallipoli."

Speaking to daily Hurriyet, a government official recalled that along
with the many other ethnic groups who fought in the ranks of the
Ottoman military, the Armenians also fought at Gallipoli. "We fought
together in Gallipoli. That's why we have extended the invitation to
Sargsyan as well," the official added.

However, April 24, 1915 is also the date of the Ottoman government's
signing the Deportation Law that led to the deaths of up to a million
Armenians in their long march south from eastern Anatolia. Armenia and
the Armenian diaspora mark the day as the "anniversary of genocide"
committed by the Ottoman Empire, and are planning to hold massive
ceremonies on the centenary of the mass killings of their ancestors.

Sargsyan has invited world leaders to Yerevan on the same day, and
neither Sargsyan nor Obama are expected to accept Turkey's invitation
to attend the ceremonies in Turkey.