Pope joined ‘evil front’ against Turkey amid ‘geno­cide’ spat: Turk­ish PM

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY DES­MOND BUT­LER

Adding to an­gry com­ments about the Pope Fran­cis’ de­scrip­tion of the Ot­toman-era killing of Ar­me­ni­ans as geno­cide, Turkey’s prime min­is­ter said Wed­nes­day that the pon­tiff has joined “an evil front” plot­ting against Turkey.

Ah­met Davu­to­glu made the com­ments at an event in Ankara out­lin­ing the rul­ing party’s plat­form for June par­lia­men­tary elec­tions and pre­sent­ing its can- di­dates. He called the pope’s de­scrip­tion of the killings of an es­ti­mated 1.5 mil­lion Ar­me­ni­ans as “the first geno­cide of the 20th cen­tury” un­just. Turkey re­sponded to the pope’s words Sun­day by re­call­ing its am­bas­sador to the Vat­i­can.

His­to­ri­ans es­ti­mate that up to 1.5 mil­lion Ar­me­ni­ans were killed by Ot­toman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by schol­ars as geno­cide

Turkey, how­ever, has in­sisted that the toll has been in­flated, and that those killed were vic­tims of civil war and un­rest, not geno­cide. It has fiercely lob­bied to pre­vent coun­tries from of­fi­cially rec­og­niz­ing the mas­sacres as geno­cide.

“An evil front is be­ing formed be­fore us ... Now the pope has joined it and th­ese plots,” Davu­to­glu said.

He said Turkey was will­ing to con­front its his­tory, but added: “We won’t al­low our na­tion to be in­sulted through his­tory, we won’t al­low Turkey to be black­mailed through his­toric dis­putes.”

Ear­lier, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan de­fended Turkey’s present-day treat­ment of Ar­me­ni­ans when asked about a res­o­lu­tion on the killings that the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is ex­pected to con­sider Wed­nes­day.

“There are 100,000 Ar­me­ni­ans who are ei­ther Turk­ish cit­i­zens or not cit­i­zens in my coun­try. Have they been sub­mit­ted to any dif­fer­ent treat­ment?” he said. “They ben­e­fit from all kinds of op­por­tu­ni­ties. We could de­port them, but we don’t. They are guests in our coun­try.”

He said that any res­o­lu­tion by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment would be ir­rel­e­vant, be­cause Turkey could not ac­cept that its his­tory in­cluded geno­cide.

“What­ever de­ci­sion they take it will go in one ear and go out the other,” he said. “It is not pos­si­ble for the Turk­ish Repub­lic to ac­cept such a sin, such a crime.”

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