Pope's Armenian 'genocide' remarks criticized by Turkey
ANKARA: Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Monday accused Pope Francis of “religious discrimination” over his comments on the deaths of Ottoman Armenians in 1915.
During a visit to Armenia last week, Pope Francis repeated his reference to the events of 1915 as “genocide”. In a statement released jointly with the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church on Sunday, he reiterated the genocide claim.
“Unfortunately, Pope Francis once again has committed religious discrimination amid the pains and losses suffered during World War I,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement Monday.
It said the “unacceptable references” to the events of 1915 and the “uttering of words which have been proven to be lies and slander” demonstrated the Pope’s “unconditional commitment to the Armenian narrative”.
The statement added that the Pope’s Armenia visit failed to contribute to peace and stability in the south Caucasus following clashes in occupied Karabakh in April.
Russia’s invasion of the eastern Ottoman Empire during World War I saw some Ottoman Armenians revolt and many were killed in the subsequent fighting and population relocation.
Ankara accepts that many lives were lost on both sides of the conflict but denies that genocide took place and has called for an independent international body to be established to examine the historical record and resolve the dispute.
When Pope Francis used the phrase last year it led to Turkey recalling its ambassador to the Vatican for 10 months.