Discussing and understanding history is more conducive to progress than being stuck at the same point for years, and Gallipoli is one of the most appropriate places to start
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu extended his condolences to Armenians whose descendants were killed 100 years ago, saying that Turkey shares the pain of Armenians and a memorial would be held for the first time in Istanbul on the April 24 anniversary. Turkey will also commemorate the centennial on April 24-25 in Çanakkale of the Battle of Gallipoli, the annual commemoration of which takes place every March 18. World leaders have been invited to attend the ceremonies. The decision to commemorate April 24 in the place where everything started is a symbolic gesture of compassion, since the Battle of Gallipoli was one of the most critical scenes in Turkey's history. During those days, Britain and France opened an overseas front in Gallipoli and tried to beat the Ottomans. They promised the capital Istanbul to the Russian Empire in World War I. It was a struggle for life or death for the Ottoman Empire. The victory in Gallipoli did not help the Turks win the war, but it gave hope to the people to resist and to start the war of independence against the imperial power a couple of years later. The resistance is honored every year on March 18 in Çanakkale and on the shores of the Dardanelles. Çanakkale is of significant importance to other nations like Australia and New Zealand as well. Each year, on April 25, they commemorate the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who lost their lives during the battle in Gallipoli. This day is known as ANZAC day. The importance of Çanakkale to them is another sad story. It was a battle away from home and was not even their own war. In fact, they were subjects of the British Empire when the war started. But they believe that their nations were born there, even though they lost the front. Çanakkale is now a symbol of their national identity and existence.
Australians who come to visit Çanakkale are always welcomed by Turks, who were once their enemies. After all, places like Çanakkale are memorials - not only for the people who fought on a particular side of a war, but also for all those involved in the tragedies of wars. In Çanakkale, the Memeds and the Johnnies are resting side by side now. Both commemorations are based on remembering and honoring - not celebrating. While people from both sides of the war remember and honor their ancestors, why do we not honor Armenians?
Historians who write about Çanakkale hardly mention Armenians - and those who write about Armenians rarely mention Çanakkale. But there is a strong link between the Gallipoli campaign and the Armenian deportations. Prominent researchers say that it was not a coincidence that the deportation took place soon after the Sarikamis disaster, and it has a direct connection with the empire's struggle in Çanakkale as a nation on the verge of complete destruction. That doesn't mean Gallipoli is an excuse for what happened, but understanding this history will help us take significant steps to achieve results.
Ten years ago, merely talking about 1915 was a feat of bravery, but now there is no taboo when discussing anything in public. This is why Turkey is taking huge historical steps every year, even though the international community is not satisfied, although the Turkish public still largely refuses to accept what happened a century ago. Last year on April 23, 2014, Turkey issued a first-of its-kind statement, in which the Turkish government offered condolences to the descendants of Armenians. Turkey is only just coming to terms with the Unionist/Kemalist ideology, which was the root of animosity against Armenians, and the official nationalist interpretations of history are now collapsing.
Discussing and understanding history is more conducive to progress than being stuck at the same point for years, and Gallipoli is one of the most appropriate places to start.