Friday 23 March 2018

Turkey will disregard European vote on Armenian killings

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan Credit: Reuters
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan Credit: Reuters

Humeyra Pamuk

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has condemned a planned European Parliament's vote on the 1915 mass killings of Armenians, which the pope this week described as "genocide".

The European Parliament is due to debate a resolution to mark the 100th anniversary of the killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians under Turkish Ottoman rule.

"Whatever decision the European Parliament takes on Armenian genocide claims, it would go in one ear and out the other," Erdogan told a news conference at Ankara airport before departing on an official visit to Kazakhstan.

"It is out of the question for there to a stain, a shadow called 'genocide' on Turkey," he said.

Read More: Anger as Pope calls Armenian massacre 'first genocide of 20th century'

Armenia, some Western historians and foreign parliaments refer to the mass killings as genocide.

Muslim Turkey agrees Christian Armenians were killed in clashes with Ottoman soldiers that began on April 15, 1915, when Armenians lived in the empire ruled by Istanbul, but denies that this amounted to genocide.

Around 100,000 Armenians still reside in Turkey including those who are Turkish citizens and those who are not and they are never mistreated, Erdogan said.

"Both citizens and non-citizen Armenians are enjoying the opportunities of our country. We could have deported them, but we didn't," Erdogan said.

Read More: Kim to mark massacre of Armenians

On Tuesday, Erdogan warned Pope Francis his comment that the 1915 mass killing of Armenians was genocide, saying he should "not make such a statement again".

Pope Francis became the first head of the Roman Catholic church to publicly call the killing of Armenians "genocide" on Sunday, prompting Turkey to summon the Vatican's ambassador to the Holy See and recall its own.

"We will not allow historical incidents to be taken out of their genuine context and be used as a tool to campaign against our country," Erdogan said.

"I condemn the pope and would like to warn him not to make similar mistakes again."

His comments are likely to put a focus on whether the United States, a traditional ally of NATO-member Turkey, will eventually use the term "genocide" for the mass killings.

Unlike almost two dozen European and South American states that use the term, Washington avoids it and has warned legislators that Ankara could cut off military cooperation if they voted to adopt it.


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