By Humeyra Pamuk and Ece Toksabay
President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would disregard the European Parliament’s vote later on Wednesday on the 1915 mass killings of Armenians, which the pope this week described as genocide.
The European Parliament is due to debate a resolution to mark the 100th anniversary of the killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians under Turkish Ottoman rule.
“Whatever decision the European Parliament takes on Armenian genocide claims, it would go in one ear and out the other,” Erdogan told a news conference at Ankara airport before departing on an official visit to Kazakhstan.
“It is out of the question for there to a stain, a shadow called ‘genocide’ on Turkey,” he said.
Pope Francis became the first head of the Roman Catholic church to publicly call the killing of Armenians “genocide” on Sunday, prompting Turkey to summon the Vatican’s ambassador to the Holy See and recall its own.
Armenia, some Western historians and foreign parliaments refer to the mass killings as genocide.
Muslim Turkey agrees Christian Armenians were killed in clashes with Ottoman soldiers that began on April 15, 1915, when Armenians lived in the empire ruled by Istanbul, but denies that this amounted to genocide.
Around 100,000 Armenians still reside in Turkey including those who are Turkish citizens and those who are not and they are never mistreated, Erdogan said.
“Both citizens and non-citizen Armenians are enjoying the opportunities of our country. We could have deported them, but we didn’t,” Erdogan said.