Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz on Thursday rejected harsh criticism from Turkey over a declaration by his country‘s parliament that labelled the 1915 deportation and massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as “genocide,” dpa reports.
The Turkish government on Wednesday night recalled its ambassador from Austria following the parliamentary decision a day earlier.
“It should be known that Turkey and the Turkish nation will not forget this slander uttered against their history,” Turkey‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, adding that the decision “will leave permanent stains on the Turkish-Austrian friendship.”
Ankara also took offence that the declaration did not mention the Muslims who lost their lives during the same period and slammed the “outrageous behaviour” of legislators in Vienna saying they should not give history lessons.
“The declaration of the Austrian Parliament is to be respected,” said Kurz. “Now it is appropriate to look towards the future and work towards reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.”
The Austrian Parliament stopped short of adopting a formal resolution, but six parliamentary parties joined in the declaration.
“Because of the historical responsibility – the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy was allied to the Ottoman Empire – it is our duty to recognize and condemn the horrible events as genocide,” it said.
“Turkey must bring light into the dark of history in order to reappraise this issue in a transparent manner,” the Austrian statement said.
Turkey has also recalled its ambassador to the Vatican after Pope Francis last week said the Armenians were victims of “the first genocide of the 20th century.”