Turkish PM says genocide recognition is `European racism`

Davutoglu said such statement ignored the suffering of Muslim Turks in World War I

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Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday angrily condemned the European Parliament for adopting a resolution urging Turkey to recognize the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide, saying it was a sign of growing "racism" in Europe.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Davutoglu said such statement ignored the suffering of Muslim Turks in World War I and risked inciting hatred towards other non-Christian religious groups.

The European Parliament on Wednesday agreed a resolution urging Turkey to use the centenary of the 1915 tragedy to "recognize the Armenian genocide" and help promote reconciliation between the two peoples.

"The European Parliament should not take decisions that would result in hatred toward a certain religion or ethnic group if it wants to contribute to peace," said Davutoglu.

"This issue is now beyond the Turkish-Armenian issue. It`s a new reflection of the racism in Europe."

Referring to the presence of nationalist and far-right groups in the European parliament, he said: "All the marginal groups in Europe have managed to make it to the European Parliament."

"The European Parliament has a structure where the decisions are taken in a very casual way," added Davutoglu.

Tensions over the different interpretations of the tragedy are intensifying ahead of April 24, when Armenians will mark the 100th anniversary of the killings, especially after Pope Francis at the weekend used the word genocide.

Armenia and Armenians in the diaspora say 1.5 million of their forefathers were killed by Ottoman forces in a targeted campaign ordered by the military leadership of the Ottoman empire to eradicate the Armenian people from Anatolia.

Turkey says hundreds of thousands of both Turks and Armenians lost their lives as Ottoman forces battled the Russian Empire for control of eastern Anatolia during World War I.

Davutoglu said that the suffering of Muslim Turks in the fighting was being forgotten amid the focus on Armenians.

"Turks and Armenians have been living together for 1,000 years. We are ready to improve neighbourly relations with Armenia, but we are against this suggestion that `Turks` pains should be forgotten`."

"We are ready to share the pain but we won`t bow," he added.

Yusuf Kaplan, a commentator for the pro-government Yeni Safak daily said the statements by the pope and EU parliament were part of an undeclared "war, diplomatic crusades" against Turkey.

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