ANKARA—Turkey on Monday called the Pope’s declaration Sunday that the massacre of more than 1.5 million Armenians during the Ottoman Empire was “the first Genocide of the 20th century” null and void and “nothing but slanderous.”
Turkey’s ambassador to the Vatican, Mehmet Paçacı returned to Ankara late Sunday, as Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu vowed more consequences toward the Vatican.
“The steps that will be taken [against the Vatican] will be made public following our consultations,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Monday at a press conference in Mongolia, where he is on an official visit, reported Hurriyet Daily News.
Çavuşoğlu criticized Pope Francis for “ignoring the sufferings of Muslims and Turks in Anatolia.”
“Unfortunately, history was made an instrument of politics. Before anything else, a religious man should have given a message of brotherhood, peace and tolerance in the face of recently growing racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance,” he said.
“These remarks are null and void for the Turkish people and Turkey,” Çavuşoğlu added, underlining that genocide is a “legal concept” and therefore the use of this word by the pope is “nothing but slander.”
The withdrawal of Paçacı was announced by the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s strong-worded statement late Sunday afternoon of that accused Pope Francis of being “one-sided” and “distorting historical facts.”
Turkey’s reaction was delivered to Vatican Ambassador Antonio Lucibello who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara on April 12.
At the meeting, Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Levent Murat Burhan told Lucibello that the Pope’s remarks caused “deep sorrow and disappointment” in Ankara.
Criticizing the Pope’s remarks as “one-sided” and “far from accurate,” Turkey said it could not understand why the pope made a “hierarchy” between the pains suffered by Muslims and Christians at the time.
Ambassador Lucibello was told that the Pope’s statement “created a loss of trust in bilateral ties” and that “Turkey will surely respond.”