Turkey has recalled its ambassadors to France and Canada for "a short time" for consultations, the Foreign Ministry announced Monday, to protest moves in both countries that recognize the mass killings of Armenians as genocide.
The diplomatic move was Turkey's latest salvo against increasing international pressure on Turkey to recognize the killings of Armenians at the time of World War I as genocide. Turks say the death count is inflated and insist that Armenians were killed or displaced as the Ottoman Empire tried to secure its border with Russia and stop attacks by Armenian militants.
Turkey has recently criticized Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for remarks he made in support of recognizing the mass killings as genocide, and warned that such statements threatened Turkish-Canadian relations.
Turkey has also warned French legislators not to approve a draft law which would make the denial of the genocide a crime. France's parliament is set to consider next week a one-article bill, presented by the opposition Socialists, which would make it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide of 1915. It is already an offense in France to deny the Holocaust of World War II.
Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were killed as the Ottoman Empire forced them from eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1923 - and that this was a deliberate campaign of genocide by Turkey's rulers at that time.
Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Paris, Osman Korutuk, and Aydemir Erman the ambassador in Ottawa, "for a short time for consultations over the latest developments about the baseless allegations of Armenian genocide in France and Canada," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Namik Tan said. They would return to their posts following the consultations, he added.
Turkish media have speculated that the country would bar Canadian companies from bidding on the construction of a nuclear power plant which Turkey hopes to build in the Black Sea coastal town of Sinop. In 2001, Turkey canceled millions of dollars' worth of defense deals with French companies after lawmakers in France recognized the genocide.