Turkish researchers have been invited to the Vatican by a top official of the Holy Roman Church’s library, which hosts one of the world’s most important manuscript collections.
French archbishop and Vatican librarian, Jean-Louis Brugues was in Istanbul on Tuesday as part of a conference called “Vatican Library and Secret Archive” at Mimar Sinan University.
Brugues’s visit came after a 10-month-long dispute between Ankara and Vatican over Pope Francis’s Armenian remarks.
He was invited to Turkey’s largest city by Istanbul-based cultural institution New East Foundation.
“If there are young friends who are interested in record keeping and want to back us up, I would be very pleased to have this support,” he said speaking to a 300-strong crowd consisting of academicians and students.
Noting that more than 1,200 researchers from 50 countries had visited the Vatican archive last year, Brugues said: “Not many researchers from Turkey have come to our archive so far. But I hope that after this visit more researchers will come and work in the Vatican archives.”
The library houses around 80,000 historical manuscripts and 9,000 first edition books, he added.
Last week Turkey announced that its ambassador to the Holy See, whom it had recalled following the pope’s statement, would return to the Vatican following a conciliatory statement issued by the latter.
During a ceremony for Armenians on April 12, 2015, the pope called the killing of Armenians in 1915 a "genocide".
On Feb. 3, the Vatican Press Office stated that it acknowledged Turkey's "repeated commitment" to opening archives to historians and researchers in order to shed light on the 1915 events.
The 1915 events occurred during World War I when a part of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with the invading Russians and revolted.
The relocation of Armenians by the Ottomans in eastern Anatolia following the revolts resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey does not dispute that there were casualties on both sides, but rejects calling the events “genocide". Instead, it calls for a joint commission of historians to be established and archives to be opened in order to study and uncover what happened between the Ottoman Empire and its Armenian citizens.