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YEREVAN, April 24. /TASS/. French President Francois Hollande expressed hope on Friday that relations between Turkey and Armenia would get back to normal.
"I would like to see the border between these countries open, so that these two so close peoples would not be distant neighbours," the French leaders said at a ceremony marking 100 years since the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire.
He urged Turkey, which still refuses to qualify the mass killings 100 years ago as genocide, to make start moves towards reconciliation. "Today, Turkey is making certain statements," Hollande said, commenting on condolences the Turkish leadership had sent to the Armenian people.
The French leader also recalled that Great Britain, Russia and France made a joint statement in 1915 condemning officially crimes against humankind and civilization, referring to the tragic events in the east of the Ottoman Empire.
He said events marking the tragic date should become "an appeal for accord and reconciliation" and should also serve as a lesson to the future generations to never see this happen again.
"We also remember about [the mostly Armenian populated Azerbaijani enclave of ] Nagorno Karabakh, where blood is still shed. Together with our partners, we will do everything to find a peaceful and long-term solution to the conflict," Hollande said.
Before the start of WWI, the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire was about 2.5 million people. According to different estimates, between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians died in 1915 as a result of deportation and systematic killings. The Turkish government acknowledges the fact of mass deaths of Armenians, but rejects the term ‘genocide,’ saying the number of victims given by the Armenian side was exxagerated.
According to Ankara, the death of Armenians was not the result of a planned policy by the government, but came as a result of a civil war in the Ottoman Empire, which had also claimed the lives of Turks.