Istanbul: Turkey is ready to "pay the price" if found guilty of the mass killings of Armenians a century ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
In a live interview with state-run TRT channel on Thursday, Erdogan said his country would take the necessary steps if historians conclude that it was at fault for the World War I-era massacres that Armenians say amounted to genocide.
"If the results actually reveal that we have committed a crime, if we have a price to pay, then as Turkey we would assess it and take the required steps," Erdogan said.
Turkey has vehemently rejected the genocide claim and says up to 500,000 Armenians died in fighting and of starvation after Armenians sided with invading Russian troops. It claims a comparable number of Turks were also killed.
Last year, Erdogan offered an unprecedented expression of condolence for the massacres when he was prime minister but this did little to satisfy Armenians, who want the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million people recognised as genocide.
But Erdogan said in the interview: "It is impossible to accept such thing. We are not obliged to recognise so-called Armenian genocide on someone`s orders."
He also reiterated that the mass killings should be studied by historians on the basis of documents and archives, and not politicians.
"If you are really sincere in this matter, let us give it to the historians. Let the historians deal with the matter. We have opened our archive and presented more than a million documents," he said.
"If Armenia also has an archive, then they should open it too.... Then we can sit and talk as politicians," he said.
Earlier this month Erdogan said Ankara would "actively" challenge a campaign pressuring Turkey to recognise as genocide the mass killings, on the 100th anniversary of the tragedy this year.