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Turkey slams Macron's Armenian genocide commemoration day declaration

Boris Horvat, AFP | A participant holds an Armenian flag as another bears the date "1915" on their arm during an April 2018 march commemorating the Armenian genocide.

Turkey on Wednesday condemned French President Emmanuel Macron's decision to declare April 24 a day for the commemoration of the Armenian genocide, an issue that caused regular friction between Ankara and the EU.

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"We condemn and reject attempts by Mr Macron, who is facing political problems in his own country, to save the day by turning historic events into political material," Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I, but contests the figures and denies the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.

The reaction came a day after Macron announced that France would make April 24 a "national day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide".

Speaking to the Armenian community at a dinner in Paris Tuesday, Macron said: "France is, first and foremost, the country that knows how to look history in the face, which was among the first to denounce the killing of the Armenian people, which in 1915 named genocide for what it was, which in 2001 after a long struggle recognised it in law."

France "will in the next weeks make April 24 a national day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide", he added.

For decades, Armenia and Turkey have been at odds over the World War I massacres and deportations of Armenians by their Ottoman rulers. Turkey denies the massacres, imprisonment and forced deportation of Armenians from 1915 -- which Armenia says left 1.5 million dead -- constituted a genocide.

Macron's remarks at the dinner, organised by the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organisations of France, honoured a campaign promise from his election in 2017.

At the event, Macron also paid tribute to Charles Aznavour, the French crooner of Armenian origin who died in October last year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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