Turkey on Thursday strongly condemned the Latvian parliament’s decision to call the events of 1915 a “genocide.”
“The declaration adopted by the Latvian Parliament today, which recognizes the events of 1915 as “genocide”, is a null and void attempt to rewrite the history for political motives,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Rejecting the “unfortunate and unlawful” decision, it stressed that the parliaments are not the places to write and judge history.
None of the conditions, defined in international law, for the use of the term genocide exist in the events of 1915, it said.
The ministry noted that the decision violates the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as well as 2013 and 2015 rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the issue.
The decision contradicts the statement Latvia made on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of its occupation that it is a precondition in international relations to approach historical events in an honest and fair manner, it said, adding the decision sets out a double standard in this context.
Instead of serving the agenda of those who try to create enmity from history, the ministry said: “We call on the Latvian Parliament to step back on this mistake and to support the efforts aiming to establish a practice of peaceful coexistence in the region, especially among the Turkish and Armenian nations.”
Turkish stance on 1915 events
Turkey's position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey objects to the presentation of these incidents as "genocide," describing them as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia as well as international experts to tackle the issue.
In 2014, Turkey's then-Prime Minister President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressed condolences to the descendants of Armenians who lost their lives in the events of 1915.