Turkey has condemned Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan's speech in which he urged school children in the capital of Yerevan to occupy eastern Turkey.
A statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said Turkey strongly condemns a response by Sarksyan to a question about occupying eastern Turkey. When asked by a student at a literature contest ceremony if Armenians will be able to get back their “western territories” along with Mt. Ararat, Sarksyan said, "This is the task of your generation."
Armenians attach great historical and cultural importance to Mt. Ararat on the eastern border of modern-day Turkey, around where an Armenian entity is believed to have first adopted Christianity as the official state religion in 301 A.D.
Sarksyan said his generation had fulfilled its task by “getting back” Karabakh, a part of what he called “our motherland." Nagorno-Karabakh is an Azerbaijani territory which is currently under Armenian occupation. Both countries have met dozens of times to find a settlement to the decades-long conflict but have failed to secure a peace agreement. Armenia currently occupies 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories, including seven adjacent provinces populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis.
The statement also said the primary duty of statesmen must be to prepare their societies, particularly youth, for a peaceful and prosperous future. Turkey said it is “very irresponsible behavior” to make recommendations to youth and future generations that could provoke animosity and an ideology of hatred between nations.
Turkey and Armenia took part in an attempt, which failed, two years ago to bury a century of hostilities by signing twin protocols on normalization of relations and establishing diplomatic ties, which also included opening the Turkish-Armenian border in two months if the protocols were ratified by both countries' parliaments.
The Foreign Ministry's statement said at a time when peace attempts have intensified in the region, the Armenian president's statements signaled that “he has no intention for peace.”