TEHRAN (Combined Sources)–Recent remarks by Iran’s Vice President that the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against its Armenian population were “taken out of context and distorted” by the media, according to a statement released on Tuesday by Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization said in a statement.
Speaking at a conference last Wednesday, Iranian Vice President Hamid Baghaei characterized the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey during World War I as genocide. “A hundred years ago the Ottoman Government committed genocide against a certain number of Armenians,” Baghaei, who also heads the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, was quoted by IRNA as saying. “Although the Ottoman Government does not exist now, Armenians demand official apologies and restitution from Turkey.”
Baghaei’s reports, according to the statement by the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, however, “were no reported faithfully by some media organs,” the Anatolian News Agency reported Sunday.
“Baghaei, without making any analysis and without declaring a specific view, has pointed out that there is an issue like this between Turkey and Armenia,” the statement said
On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu telephoned his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, and demanded an explanation for Baghaei’s reported remarks.
Baghaei allegedly drew a parallel between the Armenian Genocide and the killing of Armenians decades earlier. Iranian officials later said Baghaei’s comments were taken out of context and that he was referring to World War II, not to World War I, and that Iran’s official position on the Armenians is identical to that of Turkey’s.
Last week, the Iranian Embassy in Ankara also released a statement saying that the remarks were not accurately quoted by several media outlets, and that Baghaei had only made a reference in his speech to the issue dividing Turkey and Armenia and did not take a position on the subject.