Turkey recalls envoy to Austria as ‘genocide’ condemned

Ambassador returns from Vienna as Austrian parliament becomes latest entity to call massacre of Armenians a “genocide”.

The six parties in Austria's parliament issued a joint declaration on Wednesday calling the massacre a genocide [AFP]

Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Austria in protest over the Austrian parliament’s condemnation of the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces 100 years ago as “genocide”.

Turkey said on Wednesday that the Austrian parliamentary declaration would permanently damage the two countries’ relations.

“This declaration… has caused outrage for us,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We reject this biased attitude of the Austrian parliament, trying to lecture others on history, which has no room in today’s world.

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“It is clear that this declaration…will have permanent negative effects on Turkey-Austria relations.”

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The ministry said it had recalled its ambassador, Hasan Gogus, from Vienna for consultations over the declaration, one of a number by foreign institutions and parliaments as the 100th anniversary of the killings approached.

Ankara agrees that many Armenians died in ethnic fighting and the deportation process between 1915 and 1917, putting its estimate at 300,000 causalities, but denies there was any systematic attack on civilians amounting to genocide.

Armenia says 1.5 million died in the whole process, including the march to Syria, in what they claim to be genocide.

Austria’s joint declaration

The six parties in Austria’s parliament issued a joint declaration on Wednesday calling the massacre a genocide. It also held a minute of silence commemorating the Armenian victims.

“It is our duty to acknowledge and condemn these terrible events as genocide because of our historical responsibility – the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was an ally of the Ottoman Empire in the first world war,” the parties said. “It is also Turkey’s duty to face honestly dark and painful chapters of its history.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he did not expect US President Barack Obama to use the word “genocide” in reference to the killings.

Germany’s parliament is set to adopt a motion using the word genocide on Friday. Earlier this month, Pope Francis also called the massacres a genocide, prompting Turkey to summon the Vatican’s envoy and recall its own.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies