Turkey says pope’s ‘Armenian genocide’ declaration bears stamp of ‘Crusades’ mentality’
ANKARA - Agence France-PresseTurkey has condemned as “very unfortunate” Pope Francis’s declaration that the mass killings of Armenians a century ago by Ottoman forces amounted to a genocide, saying it bore traces of “the mentality of the Crusades.”
“It is not an objective statement that conforms with reality,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canlikli said late on June 26.
The pope on June 24 denounced the World War I killing of Armenians as a genocide, prompting Turkey’s anger.
“Sadly this tragedy, this genocide, was the first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century,” the pope said at the presidential palace in Yerevan.
Canikli said: “It is possible to see all the hallmarks or reflections of the mentality of the Crusades in the Pope’s activities.”
When Francis last used the term in the Vatican in 2015, on the centenary of the killings, Ankara angrily recalled its envoy from the Holy See for nearly a year.
The Turkish government maintains that as many Turks as Armenians died in the latter stages of World War I as a result of civil strife triggered in part by Armenians siding with invading Russian troops.
The pope on June 25 visited the Armenian genocide memorial in Yerevan but sought to strike a conciliatory tone during evening prayers.
“May God bless your future and grant that the people of Armenia and Turkey take up again the path of reconciliation, and may peace also spring forth in Nagorno-Karabakh,” said Pope with regards to the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region which started in early 1990s and has been some what partially frozen since a cease-fire in 1994.
The pope called on nations to “resist being caught up in the illusory power of vengeance.”