Turkey 'condemns' Putin comments on Armenia genocide

24th April 2015, Comments 0 comments

Turkey on Friday condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for referring to genocide during commemorations of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians during World War I.

The foreign ministry said "we reject and condemn... (Putin's) characterisation of 1915 events as genocide despite all our warnings and calls".

At a ceremony in Armenia, Putin referred to "mass" killings, but also once used the word "genocide" -- which Turkey strongly objects to -- while mentioning that Moscow is party to several international legal initiatives, including a convention against genocide.

"Such political statements which represent a clear violation of law is considered null and void by Turkey," the ministry said.

Ankara said Russian insistence on the "mistake" would not help peace and prosperity, urging Moscow "to leave its biased attitude and instead encourage Armenia and Armenians to respond positively to Turkey's appeal for friendship and peace."

The foreign ministry also condemned French President Francois Hollande who attended the ceremony in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

"Turkey rejects and condemns France's unfair and biased approach," it said.

Turkey says it shares the pain of Armenians over the events but has vehemently rejected the use of the term genocide, contending that hundreds of thousands were killed on both sides as Ottoman forces battled the Russian empire for control of Anatolia.

In a separate statement, the Turkish foreign ministry lashed out against "unfounded accusations" directed by German President Joachim Gauck, who qualified the 1915 killings as genocide and acknowledged that Germany bore partial blame for the bloodletting.

The ministry accused Gauck of disregarding the views of the Turkish community living in Germany whom it said would "not remain silent to attempts aimed at smearing (Turkish) identity."

"Turkish people will not forget or forgive German President Gauck's statements," it added.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis drew Turkey's wrath after describing the killings as "the first genocide of the 20th century".

Turkey summoned the Vatican ambassador in Ankara over the remarks and recalled the Turkish envoy to the Holy See.

On Wednesday, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Austria in protest over Austrian lawmakers' condemnation of mass killings as "genocide."

More than 20 nations, including France and Russia, have recognised the Armenian genocide.

US President Barack Obama on Thursday described the killings as "terrible carnage" but avoided the term genocide.

Ankara also criticised Obama's statement which reflected a "unilateral point of view", adding that: "We reject the discriminating and biased understanding of justice."

The foreign ministry said any country which would contribute to peace between the Turks and the Armenians would take their place in history as partners of a "friendship project."


© 2015 AFP

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