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04-22-2009 12:46 PM  10 years ago
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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey recalled its ambassador to Canada, an official said Wednesday, after Canadian government ministers reportedly took part in an event that labelled the Ottoman-era killings of Armenians as genocide.
Ambassador Rafet Akgunay returned to Ankara for consultations, the government official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with journalists on the subject. He did not say why Akgunay was recalled or for how long.
Turkey is upset, however, that Canadian officials reportedly attended an event Monday commemorating the deaths Armenians at the end of the First World War as genocide.
Hurriyet newspaper said the event in Ottawa was reportedly organized to mark the fifth anniversary of a vote in Canada's parliament to recognize the killings as genocide.
It is the second time that Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Canada over the genocide dispute.
In 2006, Turkey criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper for remarks he made in support of recognizing the mass killings as genocide and briefly withdrew its ambassador. It also pulled out of a military exercise in Canada in protest.
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks -- an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, contending the toll has been inflated and the casualties were victims of civil war and unrest.
Legislators in the United States have also introduced a resolution that would call the death genocide. If passed, the resolution could undermine efforts by President Barack Obama's administration to win NATO ally Turkey's help on key foreign policy goals.
U.S. legislators almost passed a similar resolution two years ago, but congressional leaders did not bring it up for a vote after intense pressure from the Bush administration.
Obama avoided the term "genocide" when he addressed Turkish legislators during his visit a month ago. But he said, in response to a question, that he had not changed his views. As a presidential candidate, Obama said the killings amounted to genocide.
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