Turkey says pope's genocide declaration bears stamp of 'Crusades' mentality'

AFP , Sunday 26 Jun 2016

Pope Francis
Pope Francis(Photo: Reuters)

Turkey has condemned as "very unfortunate" Pope Francis's declaration that the mass killings of Armenians a century ago by Ottoman forces amounted to a genocide, saying it bore traces of "the mentality of the Crusades."

"It is not an objective statement that conforms with reality," Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canlikli said late on Saturday, quoted by the state-run news agency Anadolu.

The pope on Friday denounced the World War I killing of Armenians as a genocide, prompting Turkey's anger.

"Sadly this tragedy, this genocide, was the first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century," the pope said at the presidential palace in Yerevan.

Canikli said: "It is possible to see all the hallmarks or reflections of the mentality of the Crusades in the Pope's activities."

When Francis last used the term in the Vatican in 2015, on the centenary of the killings, Ankara angrily recalled its envoy from the Holy See for nearly a year.

The pope on Saturday visited the Armenian genocide memorial in Yerevan but sought to strike a conciliatory tone during evening prayers.

"May God bless your future and grant that the people of Armenia and Turkey take up again the path of reconciliation, and may peace also spring forth in Nagorny Karabakh."

Armenians have long sought international recognition for the World War I killings as genocide.

Turkey -- the Ottoman Empire's successor state -- argues that it was a collective tragedy in which both Turks and Armenians died.

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