ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey said Wednesday it is recalling its ambassador to Austria after parties represented in parliament signed a declaration recognizing the massacre of Armenians a century ago as genocide.
The six parties signed a declaration on Tuesday and held a minute of silence in memory of the victims.
“Due to the historic responsibility — the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was allied with the Osman Empire during World War I — it is our responsibility to recognize the terrible events as genocide and to condemn them,” the declaration stated.
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as genocide.
Turkey, however, has insisted that the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest, not genocide. It has fiercely lobbied to prevent countries from officially recognizing the massacres as genocide.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement protested against the Austrian move, saying the country’s parliament had no right to “accuse the Turkish people of a crime” that was “contrary to legal and historic truths.”
“It should be known that Turkey and the Turkish nation will never forget this slander against its history,” the statement said.
The Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the Austrian ambassador and that the Turkish ambassador to Austria, Hasan Gogus, was being recalled to Ankara for consultations.
Earlier this month, Turkey recalled its ambassador to the Vatican after Pope Francis described the killings as genocide. The European Parliament has also triggered Turkey’s ire by passing a non-binding resolution to commemorate “the centenary of the Armenian genocide.”