The French decision to mark April 24 as a day of commemoration for the Armenian genocide has been attacked in Turkey, with the government saying France should “look at its own dark history” before remembering the slaughter of Armenians.
Thousands of people will march throughout the streets of various cities around the world on Wednesday week to remember the 1.5 million lives lost during the 1915 massacre, carried out by Ottoman Turks.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu chided France 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.
Historians regard the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire a century ago as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey rejects the term genocide, contending that those who died were victims of civil war, and has repeatedly suggested the numbers of deaths were fabricated and exaggerated.
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.”
French lawmaker Sonia Krimi and the French delegation left the room in protest over Cavusoglu’s remarks.
“When the arrogant @MevlutCavusolgu gives you lessons on arrogance and politeness, arrogantly and without any respect,” she wrote on Twitter referring to the incident.
Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin hit back posting on Twitter a story from state news agency Anadolu about “dark stains in French history.”
“Neither their colonial past nor their self-centred present guarantees their moral superiority,” he wrote.
Last year Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to call the tragedy a genocide and, instead, issued a statement at the Istanbul Armenian Church saying, “It is Turkey’s conscientious and ethical responsibility to share the historical pain of our Armenian citizens. We will continue to share your pain and try to resolve your problems in the future.”
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