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Erdogan surprises with condolence message to Armenians

What is the calculation behind Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s unprecedented statement of condolence to Armenians?
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan arrives during a ceremony at the Constitutional Court in Ankara April 22, 2010. Armenia's ruling coalition on Thursday said it had decided to freeze the ratification in parliament of accords with Turkey aimed at normalising ties between the historic foes. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2D3ZW

Some things Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is surely not short of are surprises. Also, without any doubt, he is a very shrewd politician — the shrewdest Turkey has had, perhaps, over the last few decades. His “condolences” to the victims of the Armenian genocide of 1915 were a virtuoso move.

Although he never used the “G” word, and declined to define the tragic events that led to the Armenian community perishing almost in its entirety from its traditional national homeland as a “massacre,” nevertheless his offering condolences to the “grandchildren” of those who lost their lives in those last years of the Ottoman Empire and depicting it as “our common pain” were unprecedented. Never had a Turkish leader gone that far.

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