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Erdogan Offers Condolences over Mass WWI Killings of Armenians

Turkey's prime minister offered his condolences on Wednesday over the massacre of Armenians during World War I, calling it "our shared pain", the country's most significant overture yet over the deeply divisive episode.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statement, on the eve of the 99th anniversary of the start of mass deportations of Armenians in 1915, is the first such overt comment by a Turkish leader over the killings, considered by many as the first genocide of the 20th century.

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Erdogan Bans May Day Rallies on Taksim Square

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he would not allow May Day gatherings on Istanbul's Taksim Square, the scene of protests that have dogged the government for months. 

A similar decision in May last year to ban the use of the square -- a traditional and symbolic rallying point -- led to violent clashes between police and protesters which were followed by a wave of nationwide anti-government demonstrations in June.

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Turkey PM Set for Europe Tour to Attract Expat Votes

Turkey's prime minister will tour several European countries next month, a government source said on Tuesday, as he reaches out to expat Turkish voters ahead of a possible run for the presidency.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to visit Germany, France and the Netherlands in May, the source said. Each has a large Turkish population that he is hoping to court ahead of presidential elections in August.

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'Almost One Million' Syrian Refugees in Turkey

The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has reached "almost one million," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, while pledging to keep accepting those fleeing the war.

"Are we supposed to ask our brothers not to come, and to die in Syria?" Erdogan said as he addressed his party's lawmakers in parliament.

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University Cancels Panel on Gays Deemed 'Immoral' by Turkey's Hezbollah

A Turkish university cancelled a panel on gay rights after it came under harsh criticism from Islamic extremists who branded the event as "immoral", a liberal daily reported Monday.

The Ilke news agency, which is close to Turkey's Islamist Hezbollah movement made up of ethnic Kurds, condemned the timing of the conference, which had been planned for last Thursday, because it coincided with a week of events dedicated to the birth of Prophet Mohammed, the newspaper Radikal reported.

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Minister: Turkey, Russia Agree to Increase Gas Shipments

Turkey has agreed "in principle" to increase shipments of natural gas from Russia via the Blue Stream pipeline, its energy minister said on Monday. 

The two countries will increase capacity through the pipeline, which crosses the Black Sea, from 16 billion cubic metres annually to 19 billion cubic metres, said Energy Minister Taner Yildiz. 

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Azerbaijan Arrests Journalist on Espionage Charges

A prominent newspaper journalist from Azerbaijan has been arrested on suspicion of espionage after being deported from Turkey, his lawyer told Agence France Presse on Sunday.

Rauf Mirkadyrov was detained in Baku, the capital of the ex-Soviet country, and is now being investigated for espionage, his lawyer Fuad Agayev said.

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Two Injured in Turkey by Syrian Shelling

Two people were injured in southern Turkey on Sunday when a shell fired in Syria landed on the other side of the border, a Turkish news agency reported.

The incident happened in a rural area near the village of Yayladadi, according to a report by the Dogan agency.

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Twitter Blocks Two Accounts on its Turkish Network

The social networking site Twitter blocked two accounts on Sunday, after the users were accused of spreading corruption allegations about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his aides.

The move came after a series of high-level meetings between the Turkish government and executives from the company last week, and after Ankara provoked a storm in March by trying to ban the network in the country entirely.

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Greek Cypriots Hold Historic Mass in Turkish-Held North

For the first time in almost 60 years Greek Cypriots thronged a church in the Turkish-held north for a Good Friday mass amid a drive to reunify the Mediterranean island.

The church of St George Exorinos in Famagusta on the east coast was packed with crowds of worshipers for the historic mass.

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