The two neighbors signed a deal last year to normalize relations and reopen their border, but the agreement has stalled as they exchange recriminations.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the deportation threat late on March 16 in reaction to the adoption by U.S. and Swedish lawmakers of nonbinding votes branding the massacres of the last century as genocide.
He told the BBC Turkish service there were 100,000 Armenians living illegally in Turkey. “If necessary, I may have to tell these 100,000 to go back to their country because they are not my citizens. I don’t have to keep them in my country.”
Armenia and Turkish-Armenian groups say the figure is inflated.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said today that such statements “lead to absolutely negative consequences.”
“The events that led to the Armenian genocide of 1915 began with such statements,” he told a news conference, urging Turkey to move ahead with ratifying the accords to establish diplomatic ties and open their land frontier.
Since signing the deal in October last year, Turkey has held up ratifying the agreements in its parliament, demanding Armenia first agree to a set of preconditions unrelated to the agreement.
A backlash by oil-producing Azerbaijan, Turkey’s fellow Muslim ally and enemy of Christian Armenia has also slammed on the brakes.