TSITSERNAKABERD, ARMENIA – Here, on Saturday, at the Armenian National Genocide Memorial – which makes real the massacre of one and a half million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during the First World War — Pope Francis led a prayer for peace which angered Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli and his boss, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. During his remarks, the Pope specifically referred to the mass killings as genocide. Turkey has consistently denied that the 1914-1917 killing by Turks of 1.5 million Armenians was a genocide.
Echoing Donald Trump’s rant earlier this year in which Trump cried out that “The Pope is a very political person,” Canikli likened the Pope’s remarks to the notorious Christian persecutions of Muslims during the Crusades.
Turkey wants to join the European Union, but its unrealistic refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, as well as its flawed record of treating women, are major impediments.
In Ankara, with a solitary reporter standing close by, Deputy Prime Minister Canikli surprised the world by saying, “The Pope should join the all too Christian EU just as it is dissolving, after the Brexit vote — and, by the way, we have decided that we don’t want to belong to the EU after all. Instead, we will reaffirm our Muslim identity by forming a close alliance with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. That will make it even harder for the Europeans and the Americans to end the war in Syria."