ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)—The European Parliament’s resolution acknowledging that the mass killings and deportations in 1915 of Armenians under Ottoman rule constitute genocide has prompted an angry response from the Turkish government, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responding that Turkey does not accept the decision and the Foreign Ministry stressing that Turkey does not respect those who are “mutilating history and law.”
The European Parliament adopted a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide on Wednesday and called on Turkey to end its policy of denial. The European Parliament’s resolution came shortly after Pope Francis commemorated the Armenian Genocide with a Holy Mass and described the historical tragedy as “the first genocide of the 20th century.”
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, speaking to reporters on Thursday, strongly criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) response to the European Parliament resolution and to the Pope’s genocide reaffirmation. “The government should be in a position to examine what has happened in the past. The Pope says something and they react in a childish way. This is difficult to understand. The government needs to tell people to face up to the Armenian issue,” Demirtaş said. He added that, by rejecting the Pope’s remarks, the government cannot resolve the “Armenian problem.”
Speaking to a group of businesspeople during an official visit to Kazakhstan on Thursday, President Erdogan said: “We don’t recognize decisions taken by [foreign] politicians and parliaments,” adding that Turkey will ignore all such resolutions. He stated that the European Parliament’s decision on the Armenian issue is merely a reflection of its “anti-Turkey approach.”
In his first response to the Pope’s remarks, Erdogan threatened the pontiff, saying, “I condemn the Pope and warn him to not repeat the same mistake.”
Turkey’s minister of European Affiars, Volkan Bozkir, in remarks broadcast on national TV said the Argentineans as a whole, and not just the Pope, had been “brainwashed by rich and powerful Armenians,” referring to the Pope’s Argentinian ethnicity.
Erdogan also repeated threats to deport the purported 100,000 Armenian citizens living and working in Turkey.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry denigrated the European Parliament as an institution, saying it has “exceeded its competence.” “The participation of the EU citizens with a rate of 42% in [the] 2014 elections already implies the place that this parliament occupies in the political culture of the EU,” the Ministry said.
The Ministry went on to blame the European Parliament’s decision on Islamophobia and an alleged European disdain for people “who are different.” The statement called on European nations to “encounter their own past … well before dealing with the 1915 issue.”