Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday “warned" Pope Francis "not to make such a mistake again". Today, he said that a motion set to be voted upon in the European Parliament would “go in one of our ears and out of the other."
Nicknamed the “Sultan” for his neo-Ottoman ambitions, Erdogan continues his campaign against the recognition of the mass slaughter of one million and half Christian Armenians as "genocide."
Upcoming elections on 7 June might explain the president’s hard-line nationalist stance, especially as his Justice and Development Party (AKP) might lose votes to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Yesterday, Erdogan lashed out against "the honourable pope" for his “genocide” comments on Sunday. Recalling the pope's visit to Turkey in November 2014, Erdogan said his remarks had been very different at the time.
"Now, after his remarks, I have different opinions about him both as a politician and a religious man," the Turkish leader said. “Let's leave this aside for historians to study [the events of 1915]”.
“When politicians and religious leaders take on the role of historians, then we do not get the truth, but merely a bunch of nonsense," he added.
“Why are we standing on the defensive? [Revelation of] a shame, a shadow like genocide is out of the question,” he said, when asked to comment on today’s vote in the European Parliament on a motion to recognise the mass killing of Ottoman Armenians.
Should the motion be adopted by the European Parliament, “It will go in one of our ears and out of the other. Because it is not possible for Turkey to accept such a crime, such a sin,” Erdogan said.
Noting that around 100,000 Armenian migrants are currently living in Turkey, in addition to Armenian-origin citizens of the Republic of Turkey, the president said that Turkey never “discriminated against the Armenian people.”
He also repeated an argument that he made a few years ago, stating that Turkey was actually acting generously by not deporting those 100,000 undocumented migrants, although it could do so if it wished. (FP)