MOSCOW, April 15. /TASS/. The remarks of Pope Francis on the Armenian Genocide are unacceptable for a religious leader, speaker of the Grand National Assembly (parliament) of Turkey Cemil Cicek told TASS on Wednesday.
"On the one hand, the Vatican - is a state entity, but the Pope has religious duties, and religious leaders should promote peace in society," said Cicek. "But he has taken one side, which is not fair - it’s not a peacekeeping approach."
The Turkish parliament speaker said that the politicisation of historical facts is unacceptable, adding that the fundamental principle of law is the presumption of innocence. "And while the guilt of one side is not proven and there is no international court ruling yet, it’s unacceptable to accuse the people and society," he said.
"The concept of genocide is a legal, not a political concept," he said. "We are ready to share the grief of all the peoples. But a situation in which the Pope is used as a political tool to demonise Turkey is unacceptable."
"This is an erroneous step, and the recognition of this error is very important," said Cicek, responding to a question whether Ankara expects an apology.
"The world is already affected by hatred and aggression, and religious figures should help to overcome these negative trends," he added.
Cicek claimed on April 13 that the Pope’s words were both ‘slander’ and ‘anti-Islamism’. "There is such a smear campaign that there are one-sided, unfair assessments like ‘This pain was suffered by the Armenians, everyone else was having a picnic, they did not suffer this pain’. Now the Pope, who should be more fair and objective, has joined in as well. It is unacceptable for someone who occupies that seat to cast a slander that will cause such sorrow to a nation. What the Pope has done is slander, defamation and discrimination. Hate speech is something we complain most about today; racism, hate speech, anti-Islamism. This statement does not only contradict historical facts, but it is also a statement that will trigger such discomforts."
On Sunday, April 12, at a solemn mass in memory of the victims of the genocide in St. Peter’s Basilica that was attended by Armenian believers, including President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, Pope Francis said, "The Armenian Genocide is the first genocide of the 20th century."
After these words of the Pope, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Vatican ambassador in Ankara for explanations and recalled its ambassador to the Vatican for consultations.