ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey on Thursday strongly condemned separate decisions by France and Italy to officially recognise the mass killings of Armenians a century ago as a genocide, an issue that has regularly caused friction between Turkey and European Union nations.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday signed a decision that set April 24 as a day of annual commemoration. Macron had announced the decision in February, following through with a 2017 campaign promise.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Macron had used this promise to win Armenian votes during elections. “It is inevitable that France’s attitude, which is far from amicable, will impact its relations with Turkey in a negative way,” the statement said.
Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One, but contests the figures and denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.
On Wednesday, Italy’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, also approved a motion to officially recognise the killings as genocide.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry condemned that step too, calling it an example of using Armenian claims for domestic political interests.
“It is not surprising that this motion was drafted by the Lega Party, led by Matteo Salvini, who is committed to sabotaging relations between Turkey and Italy,” the statement said.
(Reporting by Sarah Dadouch; Additional Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Kevin Liffey)