The European Parliament has passed a motion that describes the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces a century ago as a “genocide”.
The resolution comes days after Pope Francis triggered fury in Turkey by using the same term and repeated language previously adopted by the parliament in 1987, Reuters reported Thursday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened to ignore the result of the vote on the motion. Turkey is seeking European Union membership.
After the vote, the Turkish foreign ministry accused the European Parliament of attempting to rewrite history.
Muslim Turkey agrees that Christian Armenians were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces that began on April 15, 1915 when large numbers of Armenians lived in the empire ruled by Istanbul. It denies that this amounted to genocide.
Armenia, some Western historians and foreign parliaments refer to the mass killings as genocide.
Voting by show of hands, European lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the motion stating that the “tragic events that took place in 1915-1917 against the Armenians in the territory of the Ottoman Empire represent a genocide”.
Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian hailed the resolution as a move aimed at defending human rights.
“The resolution contains an important message to Turkey to use the commemoration of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide to come to terms with its past, to recognize the Armenian Genocide and thus pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between Turkish and Armenian people,” he said in a statement.
Pope Francis sparked a diplomatic row last Sunday by calling the killings “the first genocide of the 20th century”. His remarks prompted Turkey to summon the Vatican’s ambassador to the Holy See and to recall its own.
The European Parliament sprang to the pope’s defense, commending the message the pontiff delivered at the weekend.
Turkey is a candidate country to join the 28-nation EU but accession talks have dragged on for years with little progress.
Earlier, Erdogan told a news conference that “whatever decision the European Parliament took on Armenian genocide claims would “go in one ear and out the other”.
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