By Emil Danielyan
The Turkish government has for the first time published an anthology of Armenian literature in a bid to promote relations scarred by the 1915 massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman empire, AFP reported Thursday, quoting the Turkish Anatolia news agency.
The anthology, published in Turkish by the ministry of culture, contains poetry, travel notes, letters, myths and legends written by Armenian authors, the agency said. The work "provides valuable insights into the culture and history of Armenian literature," Culture Minister Istemihan Talay wrote in a preface to the book.
But it was not clear if the book includes any works by Armenian writers killed in the massacres and mass deportations. They were among some 400 Armenian intellectuals of Constantinople, former Istanbul, rounded up on April 24, 1915 and eventually executed by the Ottoman authorities. April 24 has since been commemorated by Armenians as the start of the genocide which took the lives of some 1.5 million of their compatriots.
The list of the dead includes four best known Ottoman Armenian poets: Daniel Varuzhan, Grigor Zohrap, Ruben Sevak and Siamanto. Pope John recited parts of two Varuzhan poems in a welcoming speech delivered at the start of his visit to Armenia last week.
The Pope’s use of the word genocide during the trip has angered Ankara, which says the scale of the killing has been exaggerated -- it puts the death toll at 300,000-500,000 -- and denies it involved any systematic effort to eradicate the Armenian people.
Publication of the Armenian literary anthology came several weeks after a 10-member Turkish-Armenian reconciliation commission met in Istanbul. The commission, was created in Geneva in July with the stated aim of promoting dialogue and reconciliation between the two peoples.