Turkey vows to ignore any EU parliament genocide resolution

AFP , Wednesday 15 Apr 2015

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo:AP)

Turkey on Wednesday warned the European Parliament it would ignore any resolution calling on Ankara to recognise the 1915 killings of Armenians in World War I as genocide.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said any such statement would go "in one ear and out from the other".

The European Parliament is due to vote later Wednesday on a "motion for resolution on the commemoration of the centennial of the Armenian genocide".

The vote takes place against the backdrop of growing tensions over the characterisation of the tragedy ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Ottoman-era massacres this month.

"Whatever decision the European Union Parliament makes today would go in one ear and out from the other because it is not possible for Turkey to accept such a sin or crime," Erdogan told reporters at an Ankara airport before leaving for Kazakhstan.

The resolution in parliament calls on Turkey to "recognise the Armenian Genocide and thus to pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian people."

The EU parliament had itself recognised the killings as genocide in 1987.

Furious with Pope Francis' use of the word "genocide" at the weekend to describe the killings, Turkey responded by summoning the Vatican's ambassador in Ankara and recalling the Turkish envoy to the Holy See in a show of protest.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose country is a NATO member and long-time European Union hopeful, warned the pope not to use "blackmail against Turkey".

"We will not let our nation be insulted over history," Davutoglu said in an address to his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara.

"The pope has also joined those traps set against the AK Party and Turkey," he said, railing at the "unfair accusations" made ahead of Turkey's June 7 elections.

The United States on Tuesday called for a "full, frank" acknowledgement of the mass killings while shying away from calling the massacres a "genocide."

"I don't know right now what sort of decision they will make... but I barely understand why we, as the nation, as well as print and visual media, stand in defence," Erdogan said, referring to the European parliament.

"I personally don't bother about a defence because we don't carry a stain or a shadow like genocide," he said.

Armenia and Armenians in the diaspora say 1.5 million of their forefathers were killed by Ottoman forces in a targeted campaign to eradicate the Armenian people from Anatolia in what is now eastern Turkey.

Turkey takes a sharply different view, saying hundreds of thousands of both Turks and Armenians lost their lives as Ottoman forces battled the Russian Empire for control of eastern Anatolia during World War I.

Erdogan on Wednesday said Turkey was home to some 100,000 Armenian citizens, who were working in the country, some illegally.

"We could have deported them but we did not. We're still hosting them in our country. It is not possible to understand such a stance against a country which displays" hospitality, he said.

Turkey is also still home to a small Turkish-Armenian community, mostly based in Istanbul, who number around 60,000.

Armenians around the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the tragedy on April 24, the same day as Turkey is planning major commemorations of the World War I battle of Gallipoli.

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