Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu slammed Sunday Pope Francis’ comments on the 1915 events, saying it’s not just about reading the history wrong, but also lending credence to the growing racism in Europe.
During an Armenian rite Mass in St. Peter's Basilica to mark the 100th anniversary of 1915 events, the head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis called the events as “the first genocide of the 20th century.”
Ahmet Davutoğlu rejected the pope’s comment, saying it was unfortunate, incorrect, and inconsistent.
“It is unbecoming of the pope and his authority to read the 1915 incidents unilaterally and to cover the pains of others by owning the pains of only a part of mankind,” said Davutoğlu.
“Without the external factors, the painful events of 1915 would probably not have been experienced.”
The 1915 events took place during World War I, leaving many Armenians killed, as well as Turkish people. Armenians describe the events as “genocide” while Turkey says both Turks and Armenians were killed.
On April 23, 2014, then prime minister - now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered his condolences to the descendants of the Armenians who died during the events. He offered Armenia to establish a common commission of inquiry for 1915 events, calling for other countries to contribute the process if they have information on the case.
Armenian side has not accepted Erdoğan’s call, but rather seeked for international support for their claim.
Serj Sargsyan, the president of Armenia, sent a letter to president of the parliament in mid February of 2014 for the suspension of the protocols titled “The Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Armenia and Turkey” and ‘The Development of Diplomatic Relations between Armenia and Turkey.”
‘Pope’s statement contradictory and discriminatory’
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also criticized the pope’s comment on the 1915 events, saying the term “genocide” contradicts historical and legal facts, echoing Davutoğlu’s statement.
"The pope called the 1915 incidents a ‘genocide,’ which lacks any competent court judgment, while describing the events that took place in Bosnia and Rwanda as ‘mass killings,’ which are recognized as genocides by competent international courts. There is a contradiction and discrimination there.”
Çavuşoğlu also said the pope should be giving brotherly, peaceful messages against racism, discrimination and xenophobia, as he is the religious head of Christian world.
"Statements which are controversial in every aspect, based on prejudices, distorting the history and confining the sufferings in Anatolia to a single religious community are declared null and void by the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish nation."
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry recalled its ambassador to Vatican in response to the pope’s statement, after summoning the Vatican's envoy to Ankara to the ministry and conveying the message that the incident has caused "loss of trust."
The ministry said, in a statement published on its website Sunday, that the pope’s comment is not accepted by the country.
Stating that Turkey would not recognize the pope's statement, the ministry’s statement said the incident has caused "loss of trust" and would be met with a response.
"Our ambassador to the Vatican Mehmet Paçacı is being recalled back to Turkey for consultations.”