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Erdogan condolences to Armenians not enough, Hollande

media Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Reuters/Umit Bektas

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s expression of condolences to Armenians was an “advance” but not enough, French President François Hollande said on Thursday at a ceremony in Paris to mark the 99th anniversary of the slaughter of thousands by Turkish troops.

For the first time ever a Turkish leader on Thursday expressed his “condolences” to the descendants of Armenians killed by Ottoman empire troops during World War I.

But that was not enough for Armenian President Serge Sarkissian, who claimed that Turkey is continuing a policy of “total denial” that the massacres constituted genocide.

The US was more positive, hailing a “positive step” towards reconciliation between Truks and Armenians.

“This tragedy has a name, just one name, and that is genocide,” Hollande told a commemoration organised by Paris’s Armenian community on Thursday evening.

He pointed out that France passed a law to that effect in 2001.

A 2011 law that banned anyone from contesting the categorisation caused considerable friction with Turkey before being blocked by France's Constitutional Council.

Background: France's Armenian genocide bill - Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Speaking after the ceremony, Hollande gave a cautious welcome to Erdogan’s declaration.

“It is a word that needed to be heard but it is not yet enough,” he told journalists. “What must be said is what happened, even if there has been an advance.”

A group of protesters, most of them young, chanted slogans calling for reparations by Turkey after the ceremony.

Hollande announced that he will be attending the 100th anniversary ceremony in Erevan next year.

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