The Swedish parliament’s passage of a resolution recognizing the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide is drawing strong condemnation from Ankara. The vote comes after the U.S. Congress’s Foreign Affairs Committee passed a similar motion earlier this month.
Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Sweden and canceled a summit in Stockholm after Swedish lawmakers passed the measure Thursday.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the vote calling it irresponsible.
Similar sentiments came from all of Turkey’s main political parties.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul, dismissed the Swedish parliament’s vote. “We know very well how these decisions are taken,” he said. “This decision has no value on our part. Those who voted are neither historians or scientists. No need to exaggerate this voting or make it look like more important than it actually is,” he said.
Armenians say Ottoman Turks slaughtered as many as 1.5 million people from 1915 until 1923. Turkey recognizes that Armenians were killed, but says the death toll is greatly exaggerated. It says the Armenians died in a civil war which accompanied the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
A U.S. congressional committee approved a similar resolution last week and sent it to the full House of Representatives. The move prompted Turkey to recall its ambassador to Washington.
Like the U.S., Sweden is an important ally for Turkey. It is one of the few country’s in Europe that still strongly advocates Ankara’s bid to join the European Union.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt reached out to Ankara saying his government opposed the parliamentary motion and did not want it to undermine Turkish-Armenian rapprochement efforts.
Turkey and Armenia have been making inroads in restoring diplomatic relations and resolving their historical differences. Last October the Turkish and Armenian president signed a protocol to normalize relations. Ankara has repeatedly warned that those rapprochement efforts are undermined by countries passing motions accusing it of genocide. VOA