Those who stir up trouble with allegations of the so-called Armenian genocide, particularly France, have “no concern about the truth,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a symposium, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.
“It’s obvious who killed 800,000 people in Rwanda 25 years ago, it’s France. … In Algeria, it is the French who massacred hundreds of thousands of people,” he said.
Erdoğan’s remarks came after France declared a day of commemoration of the mass deportation of Armenians in 1915.
Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed during World War I, and many scholars see it as the 20th century’s first genocide. Turkey disputes the description and says the toll has been inflated and considers those killed victims of a civil war.
France, which is home to an estimated 500,000 ethnic Armenians, officially recognized the World War I-era mass slaughter and deportation of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide in 2001. At least 22 other countries, including Germany, have taken a similar step.
Armenia says the mass killings were one of the first examples of genocide in modern history, predating the Holocaust carried out by Nazi Germany against more than 6 million Jews during World War II.
Turkey objects, saying that Armenians died in much smaller numbers and because of civil strife rather than a planned, systemic effort by the Ottoman Empire against the Christian minority.