Turkey returned its ambassador to the Vatican on Thursday, nearly 10 months after withdrawing him in protest against Pope Francis’ description of the century-old massacres of Christian Armenians as genocide, Reuters reports.
The pope sparked a row with Turkey when he said the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in World War One was “the first genocide of the 20th century”, just days before commemorations to mark the centennial of the massacres in April.
Muslim Turkey promptly recalled its envoy. In diplomatic terms, a 10-month absence for an ambassador is a very long time.
Tanju Bilgic, the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, said the decision came after the Vatican on Wednesday praised Turkey’s willingness to open its archives to historians and create a joint commission of scholars to explore past events.
The Vatican comment was within a statement about the pope having received a book by an Italian author about a naval battle between Turkey and the Venetian Republic in 1657.
Francis is given many books at his general audiences on Wednesdays but the Vatican rarely issues statements about them, so praise for Turkey in the context of the book was a sign that the Holy See way trying to find a solution to the impasse, a diplomatic source said.
Turkey routinely withdraws its representatives in countries that decide to recognise the killing of Armenians as genocide.
An overwhelming majority of Turks reject the accusation of genocide. The issue continues to thwart efforts to re-open diplomatic ties with neighbouring Armenia, and their 300-km (190-mile) border has been closed for two decades.