Armenia on Friday denounced Turkey’s angry reaction to French President Emmanuel Macron’s latest statement on the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.
Addressing prominent members of the influential Armenian community in France earlier this week, Macron pledged to assign an official day of commemoration for some 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War. France formally recognized the massacres as genocide with a special law passed in 2001.
Macron also signaled support for another French law that would criminalize public denials of the genocide. The French-Armenian community has been actively campaigning for such a measure.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, described Macron’s remarks as “populist.” “Genocide is a legal, not political term … If France is committed to the law it must not bring up such issues,” he said.
Ankara has always denied a premeditated government effort to exterminate Ottoman Turkey’s Armenian population.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian rejected the Turkish criticism of Macron in written comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“Instead of labelling those who recognize the Armenian Genocide as populists Ankara needs to abandon the dangerous populism of its denialist policy and have the courage to face its own past,” he said.
Nalbandian argued than among the two dozen nations that have officially recognized the genocide are Germany and Austria, the Ottoman Empire’s allies during the 1914-1918 war. He also cited the position on the subject of the International Association of Genocide Scholars.
“The historical record on the Armenian Genocide is unambiguous and documented by overwhelming evidence,” the association said in 2007.
Macron made his comments just days after meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian in Paris. “France will always be alongside Armenia,” the French leader said after the talks, citing “profound links” between the two nations.