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article imageTurkey slams France over national day for 'Armenian genocide'

By AFP     Feb 6, 2019 in World

Turkey on Wednesday hit out at President Emmanuel Macron's announcement that France would make April 24 a "national day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide".

"We condemn and reject attempts by Macron, who is afflicted by political problems in his own country, to try and save the day by turning historical events into a political matter," said a statement by presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.

His remarks came a day after the French president said France would set aside the date to remember the bloodshed during a dinner with the Armenian community in Paris.

Turkey and Armenia have long been at odds over the treatment of Armenians during World War I.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their people were killed during the war.

But Turkey -- the Ottoman Empire's successor state -- denies that the massacres, imprisonment and forced deportation of Armenians from 1915 amounted to a genocide.

"The claims of a so-called Armenian genocide have no legal basis at all, and go against historical realities. It is a political lie," Kalin added.

"No one can sully our history."

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy accused Macron of trying to win votes from the Armenian community in France.

"It is regrettable... to adopt such a unilateral position on an extremely sensitive subject in order to serve personal political interests," he said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP party also condemned the plan, with a spokesman accusing Macron of "harming Franco-Turkish relations" at a time when both countries were facing "sensitive regional issues such as the migrant crisis and terrorism".

The French president said he had previously informed Erdogan of his decision.

France was one of the first major European nations to recognise the mass killings as "genocide". More than 20 other countries have followed suit.

Armenians commemorate the massacres on April 24 -- the day in 1915 when thousands of Armenian intellectuals suspected of harbouring nationalist sentiment and being hostile to Ottoman rule were rounded up.

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