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Turkey’s Erdogan voices anger over Pope’s ‘mistake’

15.04.2015  |  00:20
Turkey’s Erdogan voices anger over Pope’s ‘mistake’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed anger over Pope Francis' recent controversial remarks, where he used the word "genocide" to describe the 1915 killing of Armenians.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed anger over Pope Francis' recent controversial remarks, where he used the word "genocide" to describe the 1915 killing of Armenians.

In a speech on Tuesday in Ankara, Erdogan said such talk was nonsense and the pontiff should not repeat such a "mistake" again.

"If politicians and religious leaders do the job of historians, then we will not get to the truth and only end with nonsense," Erdogan said in his first reaction to the comments, adding, "Respected Pope: I condemn this mistake and warn against making it again."

In recent days, the pontiff has been on the receiving end of censure by senior Turkish officials.

In a recent televised speech, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also accused the pontiff of making "inappropriate" and "one-sided" remarks, saying, "We'd expect the religious leaders to call for peace. Opening archives for those whose hearts are sealed serves no purpose."

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has recalled its ambassador to the Vatican for consultation amid a worsening diplomatic row over the comments.

In controversial remarks during a Sunday solemn mass in Saint Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis used the word "genocide" to describe the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War I. He said the incident was the "first genocide of the 20th century."

Referring to a statement signed by John Paul II and the Armenian patriarch in 2001, Francis said, "The first, which is widely considered ‘the first genocide of the 20th century,' struck your own Armenian people."

The 78-year-old head of the Roman Catholic Church added, "We recall the centenary of that tragic event, that immense and senseless slaughter whose cruelty your forebears had to endure. It is necessary, and indeed a duty, to honor their memory, for whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester."

Ankara rejects the term "genocide" and instead says the 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks, who perished between 1915 and 1917 were the casualties of World War I.

Armenia, however, says up to 1.5 million of its people were killed and demands that their death be recognized as genocide.

Armenia, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Russia and Uruguay formally recognize the incident as genocide.

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