And at the time from the Balkans, from the Caucasus, there were millions of Muslim Turks who were displaced, who were having to come to travel to Turkey, and there were many losses as they traveled. So the losses there took place during the chaotic times of the situation then.
But when the Turkish republic — the modern republic was established, the Turkish republic did not create this into big issue in order not to create greater hatred or hostility in future generations. But unfortunately, these issues politically, especially by the diaspora, have been brought to the agenda as a way to perhaps cling to their identity.
And our view to that has been that we should let the historians, the experts on the subject, sit down and talk about this issue. We are ready to face the realities, the facts. It cannot be the politicians and the legal experts who can make decisions here as to what happened when, under what conditions, and who lost more lives, and who is right and who is wrong. It is not a parliamentarian, a politician, who can make a decision on this without knowing the circumstances to the situation.
So that’s why we suggested that a joint history commission be established and that we would agree to the results or the conclusions of this commission. And Turkey opened — made its archives available for that purpose.
And we invited everyone, including the Armenians, and we took one more step forward and we said that if another country, for example, the United States or France, if they are very much interested in this issue, then they, too, could be a part of this joint commission and we would be ready to listen to the conclusions of that commission.
We, as Turkey, we would like to have good relations with all the countries in our region. Our relations with Armenia, unfortunately, did not exist so much, although there are some Armenian citizens in Turkey now — there are more than 70,000 Armenians who work — live in Turkey, who send money back to their families and there are some cultural activities. But we didn’t have other relations. And our goal in order to normalize these relations, as Mr. President has just said, we initiated some discussions to normalize relations and we would like to see a good resolution of these discussions.
No doubt there’s a new situation in the Caucasus. We saw how potential events could flare up in the Caucuses last year. So it’s important that in this process we work together to try to resolve the issues in the Caucasus. We should work to resolve issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and all the conflict in the region so that the area becomes fertile ground for greater cooperation.
And we have a lot of work, with the best of intentions, in that regard, and I do believe that when we reach a conclusion we will have resolved many issues.