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Armenia expects wider recognition of 'genocide' after German vote, pope's remarks

by Reuters
Monday, 27 June 2016 11:19 GMT

A woman lights candles in memory of the victims of mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks at the Armenia's main cathedral in Echmiadzin, April 23, 2015. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

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Turkey accepts that many Armenians were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces in 1915, but contests assertions that up to 1.5 mln were killed

By Margarita Antidze

YEREVAN, June 27 (Reuters) - Armenia expects more countries to recognise the 1915 massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire a century ago as a "genocide" after remarks by Pope Francis and the stance taken by Germany's parliament, its president said.

Germany's lower house adopted a resolution this month declaring the killings of Christian Armenians by Ottoman forces in World War One a "genocide", a term used by many Western historians and parliaments, but rejected by Ankara.

During a visit to Armenia on Friday, the pope departed from his prepared text to use the term, angering Turks.

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces at the time, but contests assertions that up to 1.5 million were killed, and denies the killings were orchestrated and so constitute a genocide.

"The principled position of the pope and the views expressed by the Bundestag will pave the way for new recognitions by other nations," President Serzh Sarksyan told Reuters in an interview.

"Germany is a very important and significant actor on the international stage and this (decision) will serve as a good example for other nations to follow and to learn from it," he said.

Sarksyan criticised Turkey's position over its aspiration to join the European Union, saying Ankara was trying to use a policy of dictatorship to bring pressure to bear on the bloc.

"I don't think that Turkey is ... an actor that can impose its views, or exercise pressure, on the European Union," he said.

"I don't honestly see any prospects that would pave the way for Turkey joining the EU."

(Editing by Katya Golubkova and Richard Balmforth)

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