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Ankara slams Swedish recognition of Armenian ‘genocide’

The Swedish parliament approved Thursday a resolution that brands the killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War One as genocide, prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador in Stockholm in protest.

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AFP- The Swedish parliament on Thursday recognised the massacres of Armenians during World War I as genocide, immediately sparking a diplomatic row with Turkey.

Its resolution, which the government had opposed, "signifies that Sweden recognises the 1915 genocide of Armenians" and other ethnic groups during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey quickly denounced the vote, cancelled a visit to Stockholm by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan scheduled for next week, and recalled its ambassador from Stockholm for consultations.

"We strongly condemn this decision. Our people and our government reject this decision based upon major errors and without foundation," said a statement from Erdogan's office.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed during World War I by their Ottoman rulers in a planned campaign of extermination as the empire was falling apart, a stance that is supported by several other countries.

Turkey rejects the genocide label. It argues that between 300,000 and 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks were killed in civil strife when Armenians rose up for independence and sided with invading Russian forces.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt immediately announced that the position of his government, which supports Turkey's entry into the European Union, "remains unchanged".

"We think it is a mistake to politicise history," Bildt wrote on his blog from Copenhagen, where he was attending a meeting of Nordic foreign ministers.

"Unfortunately the decision of the parliament will not facilitate the process of normalisation between Turkey and Armenia, nor the work of a commission which should investigate the events of 1915," he added.

The adoption of the resolution came as a surprise after four members of the conservative majority rebelled to support the opposition resolution, which passed by one vote.

A US Congress panel branded the World War I massacre of Armenians as genocide earlier this month, sparking a diplomatic row with Turkey, which recalled its ambassador from Washington.

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