European Union lawmakers called on Turkey to acknowledge its historic responsibility for the massacre of Armenians during World War I, as the country’s past continued to cloud its bid to become an EU member.
A European Parliament resolution urged Turkey “to come to terms with its past, to recognize the Armenian genocide and thus to pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples.”
While the Parliament stopped short of making an admission of guilt a requirement for Turkey to join the EU, the resolution adopted Wednesday in Brussels was seen as a provocation by the country’s leaders.
Whatever the Parliament says will go “in one ear, out the other,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier. “Everyone should know that Turkey can never accept such a sin, such guilt.”
The 100th anniversary of the first killings has inflamed tension between mostly Muslim Turkey and Christian Armenia, and amplified European criticism of modern Turkey’s civil rights standards.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed during World War I by Ottoman Turkish forces. Turkey’s present government has offered condolences and recognized that atrocities were committed, while objecting to international use of the word “genocide.”
That term, designating an organized campaign to exterminate an ethnic or religious group, was used by Pope Francis on Sunday, infuriating Turkey’s leaders. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday said the pontiff is part of an “evil gang” aligned against Turkey.
The Parliament resolution was approved by a show of hands. It isn’t binding on EU governments, the ultimate arbiters of Turkey’s membership bid.
More contemporary reasons -- including Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus and concerns about Erdogan’s record on civil liberties -- have hindered Turkey’s progress on accession since it started entry talks in 2005.