Armenia Marks Centenary of Mass killings

Armenia Marks Centenary of Mass killingsArmenia Marks Centenary of Mass killings

Armenians on Friday marked the centenary of the killing of up to 1.5 million of their people during and after the World War I as tensions mounted over Turkey’s refusal to recognize the killings as genocide.

In the capital Yerevan, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian laid a wreath at a hilltop memorial, followed by several foreign diplomats in a solemn ceremony commemorating the mass killings that began in 1915, AFP reported.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande were among the world leaders who joined the ceremony.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians later joined a procession to the genocide memorial -- Armenia’s most visited landmark -- carrying candles and flowers.

Members of the massive Armenian diaspora that came into existence as a result of the slaughter that went on until 1917 were also to commemorate the somber anniversary in cities around the world.

The patchy list of foreign dignitaries attending commemorations in Yerevan highlights the lack of international consensus over Armenia’s bid to get the incident recognized as genocide internationally.

Ankara says 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil -- rather than religious -- strife when they say Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with Russian troops.

In a rare interview with Turkish television broadcast Thursday, President Sarkisian expressed hope the two countries could mend fences.