Turkey warns Austria over 'genocide' condemnation by lawmakers

AFP , Thursday 23 Apr 2015

Mevlut Cavusoglu
File Photo: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (Photo: Reuters)

Austrian lawmakers' decision to condemn as "genocide" the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I will have "unfavourable repercussions" on Turkish-Austrian relations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.

"The adoption of this declaration will inevitably have unfavourable repercussions on bilateral relations," he told his Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz by telephone, the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

Turkey on Wednesday recalled its ambassador to Austria over the lawmakers' condemnation.

Earlier Wednesday, the leaders of Austria's six major parties issued a statement recognising the killings for the first time as "genocide" and calling on Turkey to take responsibility for its role in the mass murders.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their ancestors were killed in a targeted military campaign to eradicate the Armenian people from Anatolia, in what is now eastern Turkey.

They have long sought to win international recognition of the massacres as genocide.

But Turkey insists that both Turks and Armenians died as Ottoman forces battled the Russian empire for control of Anatolia during World War I.

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

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

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