Turkey slams French decision to mark Armenian genocide

Turkey slams French decision to mark Armenian genocide
2 min read
12 April, 2019
Turkey's foreign minister has criticised a French decision to mark April 24 as a day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide, saying France should "look at its own dark history."
Armenians commemorate the massacres on April 24 [Getty]
Turkey's foreign minister has criticised a French decision to mark April 24 as a day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide, saying France should "look at its own dark history."

Mevlut Cavusoglu made the comments on Friday during a tense exchange of words with a French parliamentarian at a NATO meeting in Turkey, a day after French President Emmanuel Macron's decision was inscribed in France's official journal.

Many historians regard the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire a century ago the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey rejects the term genocide, contending that those who died were victims of a civil war.

Cavusoglu said: "France is the last country to teach Turkey a lesson on genocide and history. We haven't forgotten what happened in Rwanda and Algeria."

Turkey and Armenia have long been at odds over the treatment of Armenians during World War I. Turkey and Azerbaijan are the only two countries that outright deny the genocide occured.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their people were killed during the war. The overwhelming consensus among historians is that the genocide took place, with estimates of the kileld ranging from 800,000 to 1,800,000.

Human Rights Watch's Middle East Director, Sarah Leah Whitson, also praised Macron's decision.

The French president said he had previously informed his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan of his decision.

France was one of the first major European nations to recognise the mass killings as "genocide". More than 20 other countries have followed suit, including Canada, Germany and Argentina.

Countries including France, Cyprus, Italy, Greece, Slovakia and Switzerland, have also made denial of the genocide a crime.

Armenians commemorate the massacres on April 24 - the day in 1915 when thousands of Armenian intellectuals suspected of harbouring nationalist sentiment and being hostile to Ottoman rule were rounded up.

The Armenian community in France numbers around half a million, the bigest in Europe and third largest in the world. The community was established by genocide survivors in 1915.