Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the European Parliament to reconsider its planned vote on Wednesday to recognize the Armenian genocide, the 100th anniversary for which takes place next week.
Any resolution passed by the parliament will “go in one ear and go out the other” said Erdogan a few hours before the vote. The draft resolution urges Turkey ‘‘to come to terms with its past, to recognize the Armenian genocide and thus pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between Turkish and Armenian peoples,’’ according to text obtained by Bloomberg News.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed during World War 1 by Ottoman Turkish forces. Turkey recognizes that atrocities took place but refutes the genocide label, and has pursued a campaign to stop other countries using the term.
Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, drew Turkey’s ire Sunday when he said at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica that the killings of Armenians are ‘‘generally referred to as the first genocide of the 20th century.” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday said that the pontiff had joined an “evil gang” against his country.
Last year Turkey offered its first-ever condolences over mass deportations that preceded the Armenian deaths. Armenia estimates 1.5 million ethnic Armenians were killed from 1915 to 1923.
Turkey says the figure is inflated and that killings of Armenians took place during clashes in which thousands of Turks also died.
“Everyone should know that Turkey can never accept such a sin, such a guilt,” Erdogan said about the genocide allegation on Wednesday. He said Turkey hosts 100,000 non-resident Armenians. ‘We could deport them but we did not,’’ he said.