In a first time and highly uncharacteristic move Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan broke silence on the horrors of the Armenian people during World War I. Erdogan called the events of 1915 “shared pain” when Armenian minority populations were forced out of the country, resulting in roughly 1.5 million estimated deaths.
What is so surprising is that Turkey has up until this point refused to acknowledge the events as a genocide, citing in the past that the numbers cited were inflated and that many other people died during the collapse and disbanding of the Ottoman Empire. While Erdogan did not refer to the events as a genocide this is still a positive step forward for Turkish/Armenian relationships.
This event begs the question as to whether this act of contrition will be successful as well as whether or not other nations can learn from Turkey’s actions. Strained relations in East Asia come to mind when long lingering genocides come to mind, particularly in the case of Japan and China. Whether or not Turkey’s slow and careful admittance to past wrong doings will improve relations between the people of these two nations remains to be seen, but should be monitored to see how official statements like Erdogan’s can make a difference on a person to person level.