Turkey on Thursday criticized the "one-sided" position of the Netherlands' two main political parties after they dropped three election candidates for not accepting Ottoman Turkey's killing of Armenians as genocide.
The Netherlands, like the European Parliament, has urged Turkey to recognize Armenian genocide claims, and the parties said they had dismissed the candidates, all of Turkish origin, for differing from official party policy.
"We find it a regrettable development to see that the political parties in a country which we consider a friend and ally ... have tried to impose their one-sided positions on their candidates for the parliament," said Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan in a statement released by the Turkish embassy in the Hague. Although he stressed the way Dutch political parties determined their lists of candidates for November's general election was an internal matter, he added it was: "inconceivable to accept that the unfounded Armenian genocide allegations be presented as if they are historical facts."
Armenia and its supporters around the world say some 1.5 million Armenians perished in a systematic genocide committed by Ottoman Turkish forces between 1915 and 1923. Ankara accepts many Armenians were killed on Turkish soil, but says they were victims of a partisan conflict that claimed even more Turkish Muslim lives as the Ottoman Empire was collapsing. It denies any genocide, yet the matter could disrupt Turkey's entry talks with the European Union.
In a press statement late on Tuesday, leaders of the ruling centre-right Christian Democrats (CDA) said they had dismissed two candidates, Ayhan Tonca and Osman Elmaci, for having a contrary opinion to the party.
Although both had issued a statement accepting the killings as genocide, they later gave an interview to a Turkish newspaper where they revoked this view, Dutch news agency ANP reported. The main left-wing Labor party (PvDA) has also dropped a candidate, Erdinc Sacan, from its election list after a Dutch newspaper reported he ran a Web site which expressed Turkish nationalist views.
Sacan said in a statement on Thursday he had always been against all forms of genocide. He added: "I really don't find it responsible as a candidate for parliament, without a concrete study on the matter, to give a firm opinion on the Armenia question."