The evidence is overwhelming that the Ottoman Turks systematically organized the deliberate deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians. Government documents, photos, testimony from survivors prove that Turkey wished to rid itself of its Christian minorities, largely because they believed that the Armenians and others were siding with Russia against Turkey in World War I. They also needed a convenient scapegoat for the losses suffered on the battlefield.
The greatest number of killings occurred on horrific death marches of hundreds of miles where the Turks drove women, children, and old people (most of the young men had already been massacred) into the Syrian desert. There was no food or water given to the victims along the way — again, by design.
Few recognized historians take Turkey’s side — that the deaths were regrettable but not part of an organized effort to kill all Armenians. And Turkey is fanatical about the subject. After Pope Francis identified the Armenian massacres as genocide, Turkey angrily recalled its ambassador to the Vatican.
His use of the term genocide — even though he was quoting from the declaration — upset Turkey.
The nation summoned its ambassador to the Vatican for “consultations” just hours after Francis’ comments, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. Earlier, Turkey summoned the ambassador from the Vatican for a meeting, Turkish state broadcaster TRT reported.
Turkey’s former ambassador to the Vatican, Kenan Gursoy, told CNN in a telephone interview that while it is the first time Turkey has summoned its ambassador home from the Vatican, “This does not mean that our diplomatic ties with the Vatican are over.”
“Since this is a situation that we do not approve of, as a first reaction, (the ambassador) is summoned to get consultation,” Gursoy said, adding that the Pope’s use of the word “genocide” was “a one-sided evaluation.”
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