Armenians retract apology

ISTANBUL - An Armenian academic has retracted a planned campaign to apologize to Turks for the killings conducted by his countrymen after drawing fierce criticism from the Armenian diaspora, daily Hürriyet reported on Monday.

Dr. Armen Gavakian from the Macquarie University in Sydney, inspired by a similar Turkish initiative apologizing to Armenians, decided last month to launch a campaign to apologize from Turks for murders committed by the Asala organization in the 1980s.

Gakavian retracted the campaign after fierce criticism from the Armenian diaspora, Hurriyet wrote.

Prof. Baskin Oran, one of the academics who initiated the Turkish apology campaign, wrote in daily Agos that they were also exposed to similar criticism from fellow citizens.

"His campaign resembles ours. Attacks from the Workshop for Armenian/Turkish Scholarship started immediately. They asked if it was the Turks who made him write it," Oran wrote.

Around 200 Turkish academics, writers and journalists launched a Web site issuing an apology to Armenians "for ignoring the tragedy that the Armenians faced in 1915." The efforts of Turkish intellectuals have also been criticized in Turkey and incited counter Web site campaigns, exhibitions and photographs from studies conducted into the events.

The statement prepared by Gavakian was expected to be opened for signature this week. "I apologize to the Ottomans and Turks for murders committed in the name of the Armenian people and I empathize with the feelings and pain of the Ottomans and Turks," the statement read, according to media reports. He later denied that the statement included an apology.

Gavakian earlier told daily Radikal that Turks’ "I apologize" campaign inspired him to launch a similar effort. "This was a great initiative that was proof of nobility since it is hard to face one’s past, whether as an individual or a nation. I hope the Armenians can show the same courage as the Turks and face the skeletons in their own closet," he said.
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