Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that countries lecturing Turkey on human rights and democracy over the Armenian question and fight against terror had a bloody history, while reminding those countries of Nazi concentration camps, pro-government Sabah newspaper reported .
Erdoğan spoke at the presidential palace during a symposium on Turkey's archives on Apr. 24, recognised by various countries as the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
Turkey denies that the systematic massacres and forced deportation of Armenians committed by the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916 constituted genocide.
Ankara and Paris recently experienced a diplomatic row over the genocide issue, after which French President Emmanuel Macron recognised Apr. 24 as a national commemoration day of the Armenian genocide.
"We see that those who try to lecture Turkey on human rights and democracy over the Armenian issue and fight against terror have a bloody history," Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey's rulers for centuries expanded its borders of influence by "conquering hearts."
"Those who today wear the mask of human rights and democracy apostles are responsible for the biggest massacres humanity has witnessed in recent centuries. Neither Turks nor the Muslims are responsible for the killing of four million people in the period of crusaders," Erdoğan said.
The Turkish president criticised France for lecturing Turkey today, while having killed 800,000 people in Rwanda 25 years ago.
"Those who talk about genocide seem to have forgotten [their] concentration camps," Erdoğan said, referring to the Holocaust.
The presidential communications director also criticised Western powers' attitude toward the Armenian genocide on social media.
"There are no problems that Turks and Armenians, who have lived together for 800 years, cannot solve today via sincere dialogue. That as long as colonialist powers attempting to threaten our country over so-called Armenian genocide allegations and politicising history are prevented," Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter.
Turkish authorities on Wednesday banned a genocide commemoration in Istanbul organised by the Human Right Association at the Sultanahmet Square in front of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, where Armenian intellectuals were imprisoned in 1915.
This is the second year the commemoration in Sultanahmet has been banned. During last year's commemoration, Turkish authorities requested from the association to remove the word "genocide" from its press statement, while three members of the organisation who carried a banner were detained
The Istanbul Governorship also did allow for the April 24 Armenian genocide commemoration to take place in Taksim square this year.
The April 24 Remembrance Platform, a group of volunteers organising the commemoration since 2007, announced that a press statement will be read in Istanbul's Şişhane square instead.
Erdoğan statements came under criticism on social media.
Associate director at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University, James Ryan, pointed to Erdoğan's u-turn on the Armenian issue over the last few years, tweeting, "RTE in 2014: You have our condolences. RTE in 2019: Talat had no choice," while linking a New York Times article from 2014 which quoted an apologetic Turkish leader.
"According to Erdogan, Ottoman Turks slaughtering 1.5 million ethnic Armenians, including women & children, in a deliberate campaign of genocide 'was the most reasonable action," wrote Washington D.C.-based Kurdish-American attorney Samira Ghaderi.