French President Emmanuel Macron has signed a decree designating April 24 as a day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide, sparking an angry reaction from Turkey’s foreign minister, Deutsche Welle reported.
Under the decree, a commemoration ceremony will be held every year on April 24 in Paris. In addition, ceremonies can be organized in every department at the initiative of the president.
The prime minister of France will be responsible for the implementation of the decree.
Many historians regard the mass killings of Armenians as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey rejects the term genocide, contending that those who died were victims of civil war and unrest.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu accused Macron of becoming involved in populism by trying to keep the promises he made to the Armenians during his election campaign.
“He should first look at the dark history of his country. It has been a quarter century since the Rwanda genocide,” Çavuşoğlu tweeted on Thursday.
He also said Macron’s decision to designate April 24 as the day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide violates the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and the French Constitutional Court.
France, which is home to an estimated 500,000 ethnic Armenians, officially recognized the World War I-era mass slaughter and deportation of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide in 2001. At least 22 other countries, including Germany, have taken a similar step. Turkey categorically rejects that the killing of the Armenians was tantamount to genocide.
Armenia says the mass killings were one of the first examples of genocide in modern history, predating the Holocaust carried out by Nazi Germany against more than 6 million Jews during World War II.
Turkey objects, saying that Armenians died in much smaller numbers and because of civil strife rather than a planned, systemic effort by the Ottoman Empire against the Christian minority.