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Pope's provocation continues, says those who shun debate want to stifle it
Thursday April 16, 2015 10:25 PM, AKI

Vatican City: Days after his comments terming the World War I mass killings of Armenians "genocide" incensed Turkey, Pope Francis on Thursday claimed those who shunned dialogue wanted to stifle debate.


[Pope Francis with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while his recent to the country.]

"Fury and the wish to silence people show a closed mind and the inability to dialogue," Francis said celebrating mass at the Vatican hotel.

Turkey recalled its envoy to the Vatican after Pope Francis on Sunday described the mass killing of Armenians under Ottoman rule in World War I as "genocide", sparking a diplomatic row.

Ankara described the pontiff's remarks as "slander" and accused him of spreading hatred. Francis appeared to defend his comments when in a homily earlier this week he appealed for "frankness" and "freedom of speech".

"Today, the message of the Church is to take the path of frankness, path of Christian courage... of freedom of speech," Francis said.

The European parliament on Wednesday commemorated the centennial of the mass killing of Armenians and overwhelmingly adopted a resolution urging Turkey to recognise the killings as genocide.

The parliament also commended Francis's comments on Sunday "honouring the centenary of the Armenian genocide in a spirit of peace and reconciliation".

The non-binding resolution called for the normalisation of ties between Armenia and Turkey by formally establishing diplomatic ties and engaging in cross-border cooperation and economic integration.

Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian hailed the resolution as a move aimed at defending human rights.

But the Turkish foreign ministry accused the European Parliament vote of attempting to rewrite history.

Armenia says up to 1.5 million people died in 1915-16 as the Ottoman Empire was disintegrating. Turkey claims the number of deaths was much smaller, that many were due to famine and unrest and and says ethnic Turks also suffered in the conflict.


 

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