Turkey has condemned Brazil and summoned its ambassador to the country after the Brazilian senate passed a motion recognizing the 1915 incidents as genocide, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday. "The senate's decision on the events of 1915 distorts the historical truths and ignores the law, and we consider it an example of irresponsibility," the statement said.
"Political decisions of this nature, taken under the influence of the Armenian lobbies, can neither change the historical facts nor the legal norms," it added. The ministry also said that Turkey's views of the issue had been conveyed to the Brazilian ambassador to Ankara, and that Turkey's ambassador to Brasilia, Hüseyin Diriöz, was recalled to Ankara for consultations.
Turkey and Armenia disagree on what happened during the incidents between 1915 and 1923, with Armenia saying that 1.5 million people were deliberately killed and Turkey saying the deaths was a result of deportations and civil strife. Turkish-Armenian relations have remained strained for decades due to Armenia's constant demand for Turkey to officially accept the Armenian claims of genocide. Tensions peaked in 1993 when Turkey closed its borders with Armenia in reaction to the war in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and in support of its close ally Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, last year President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan while still prime minister, made attempts to thaw tensions between the two countries by issuing a message ahead of the 99th anniversary of the 1915 incidents.
In an unprecedented move, Erdoğan extended condolences to the grandchildren of the Armenians who lost their lives in the 1915 incidents. However, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, in a purported refusal to reconcile with Turkey, said he had withdrawn the peace accords with Turkey from parliament. The two countries' foreign ministers at the time, Ahmet Davutoğlu and Eduard Nalbandian, had signed protocols to establish diplomatic ties between the two countries in 2009 in Switzerland. Mediated by the United States, the protocol had presupposed the opening of the border between Turkey and Armenia, but it failed to be ratified.
Following the incident, Erdoğan complained that Armenia had failed to reciprocate Turkish peace efforts, but said that Ankara would still pursue a settlement with Armenia. Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgiç also said: "Turkey will remain committed to the normalization process it pursues as the main purpose of the protocols."