Rome (AsiaNews) - "Null and void", "inappropriate", "unilateral", "unacceptable" and a “distortion of history", this is the harsh response from the Turkish government to Pope Francis’ words about the "genocide" of Armenians carried out one hundred years ago by the Ottoman Empire.
Francis was speaking during Mass celebrated for the "Metz Yeghern", the Armenian "Great Evil" when he stated that " our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies. The first, which is widely considered “the first genocide of the twentieth century” affected the Armenian people.
Ankara’s response seems to indicate a new Vatican attitude regarding the Armenian "genocide" – which Turkey continues to deny - but in reality the term was used in the Joint Declaration made in Armenia, in Etchmiadzin by John Paul II and Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, September 27, 2001, which was expressly mentioned yesterday. At the time, the Turkish reaction was very bland.
Thus, if the "Vatican" statement is the same and the Turkish reaction very different, the change of policy actually is on Ankara’s part. The political power has passed from the secularism of parties who referred to the tradition of Kemal Ataturk to that of the "moderate" Islamism of Erdogan and his attempt to propose a new Ottomanism. Moreover, the president is concerned about the approach of the general elections of June 7, to the point of taking intransigent positions on the most sensitive national issues to contain the dreaded drain of votes from his AKP party towards MHP nationalists.
In fact, yesterday the Turkish foreign ministry summoned the papal nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, to whom the deputy undersecretary Levent Murat Burhan said that the Pope’s remarks caused “deep sorrow and disappointment” in Ankara. Criticizing the Pope’s remarks as “one-sided” and “far from accurate,” that they had “created a loss of trust in bilateral ties” and that “Turkey will surely respond.” Ankara has also recalled its Ambassador to the Holy See Mehmet Pacaci "for consultations". The Foreign Ministry, in making their decision known stated that the allegation made by Francis " is controversial in every aspect, which is based on prejudice, which distorts history and reduces the pains suffered in Anatolia under the conditions of the First World War to members of just one religion".
And that’s not all. The Minister of Turkey to the EU, Volkan Boksir, via Twitter also wrote: " I reject the Papal attitude, which should strive to leave a legacy of peace and friendship for future generations, but instead tries to derive enmity out of history". “There is - he added - There is no period of time in Turkey's history that it would be ashamed of. Efforts towards constituting an identity based on falsified documents will fail". And there’s even more, the Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in another tweet described the Pope's words as "unacceptable", " far from historic and legal truths".
Finally, the same Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, In a televised speech on Sunday, Davutoglu accused the pontiff of making “inappropriate” and “one-sided” remarks, adding, "We'd expect the religious leaders to call for peace. Opening archives for those whose hearts are sealed serves no purpose". This last statement refers to the request made to Turkey, and never met, to open the archives relating to that period.
In this regard, the official Anadolu news agency, repeats the "historic" Turkish line, according to which "the Ottoman Empire, following the revolt, moved Armenians to eastern Anatolia and there were Armenian victims during the process of relocation".
An estimated one and a half million. (FP)