Ankara: Belgian PM’s Armenian ‘genocide’ remarks not acceptable

Published 21.06.2015 20:31

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel's recognition of the 1915 incidents as genocide "distorted historical facts," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Saturday in statement.

Michel said during a parliamentary session on Wednesday that the incidents perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917 "must be viewed as genocide."

The Foreign Ministry criticized the comment, saying Michel's remark was "neither acceptable nor excusable." Ankara denounced the politicization of genocide claims.

Michel's comment came a few months after European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on April 15 recognizing the 1915 incidents affecting Armenians as genocide.

On May 29, Mahinur Özdemir, a Belgian regional deputy of Turkish origin, was expelled from her party, the Humanist Democratic Centre (CHD) after she refused to recognize the 1915 incidents as genocide.

The incidents of 1915 took place during World War I when a portion of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with invading Russian forces and revolted.

The subsequent relocation of Armenians in eastern Anatolia resulted in numerous casualties. Turkey does not dispute that there were casualties among both Armenians and Turks during this time but rejects calling the events genocide.

The Armenian lobby recently increased its pressure on Turkish communities abroad and has sometimes used somewhat bold tactics, mainly in the U.S. The Turkish Ambassador to Paris Hakkı Akil was attacked with a cup of pomegranate juice by a French-Armenian protester on March 2 during his talk on Secularism in Turkey and France at the Faculty of Law at Paris Descartes University. An Armenian publication recently targeted U.S. Republican representative from Pennsylvania, Bill Scuster, because of his refusal to become one of signatories of the House Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution. Publisher of the English-language Armenian weekly, the California Courier, said that Armenians should apply "such pressure" to Bill Shuster to create an example showing other representatives that they too would be targeted for defeat. The same newspaper called on Armenians to pressure American companies to cancel their official contract with the Gephardt Group, one of Turkey's lobbying firms.

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