Pope Francis used the term “genocide” to describe the 1915 mass killing of Armenians by the Ottomans for the second time during his visit to Armenia, an issue that recently caused tension between Germany and Turkey following a parliamentary resolution.
In his public speech after meeting Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Pope Francis reportedly did not stick to his previously drafted text and called the 1915 incidents “genocide.” Referring to the service held in Vatican on April 12, 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armenian massacre, Pope Francis said “This tragedy, this genocide was unfortunately the beginning of catastrophes of the last century.”
Several journalists reported that the word “genocide” was not mentioned in the original text delivered to them.
Pope Francis first used the term in last year’s anniversary held in Vatican on April 12. In response to the move, Turkey had called back its ambassador to Vatican and the the strained ties between the two countries were normalized after 10 months, after which Turkish Ambassador to Vatican Mehmet Paçacı returned to his office in February.
Three weeks ago, Germany passed a symbolic resolution that labels the killings of Armenians during 1915 and 1916 a “genocide” by Ottoman forces. Later in the same day, Turkey called back Turkish Ambassador to Berlin.
The move prompted outrage in Turkey as the country does not consider the killings as “genocide” and says that there had been casualties from both sides during a time of war, which do not amount to “genocide.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan harshly criticized Germany following the decision. He stated that there are currently over a million documents regarding the 1915 events in the Turkish archives, which were studied. The president once again challenged foreign countries claiming a “genocide,” saying that they could send their lawyers, historians and archeologists to examine the Turkish archives to enlighten the Armenian killings.