Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a conciliatory message to Armenians on the eve of the anniversary of the massacre of Armenians almost a century ago, calling the events of World War I "our shared pain."

In a statement released Wednesday in nine languages — including Armenian — Erdogan said he hoped Armenians who lost their lives are in peace and expressed condolences to their descendants.

Erdogan acknowledged the deportation of Armenians in 1915 had "inhumane consequences" but did not use the term "genocide," which Turkey strongly rejects.

Most historians see the killings as the first genocide of the 20th century and estimate about 1.5 million Armenians died. Turkey says those figures are inflated and that there were deaths on both sides as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.