German genocide vote 'has no value': Erdogan
The German parliament resolution recognising as genocide the massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire has "no value" and won't change Turkey's position on the matter, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
He said he wondered how German officials could look Turkey's leaders in the face after Thursday's vote in the Bundestag, which prompted Ankara to withdraw its ambassador and warn of further consequences.
But he said it was "too early" to talk of economic measures against Germany. And he said the dispute with Berlin should not be a factor in Turkey's wider relationship with the European Union, acknowledging it would also do Turkey no good "to act with hate".
"The decision taken by the German parliament has no value whatsoever," Erdogan said in comments to Turkish newspapers including the Hurriyet daily while on a trip to Africa.
"Our position on 1915 is well known... and this kind of decision is not going to change what we think about our history. But they also overlook the fact they face the risk of losing a friend like Turkey."
In a televised speech later in the day, Erdogan accused the international community of using the issue as "blackmail" against Ankara, threatening to leave Europe "to its own worries" if the disputes was not resolved.
"The issue here is not the Armenians.... The Armenian issue is used all over the world as a convenient blackmail against Turkey and has even started to be used as a stick," he said in a televised speech.
"I am addressing the whole world. You may like it, you may not. Our attitude on the Armenian issue is clear from the beginning. We will never accept the accusations of genocide."
He said that during World War I, what remained of the Ottoman Empire was "under siege from all sides" and "of course a number of measures were taken to restore order in Anatolia".
"Either we find solutions to our problems in a fair way. Or Turkey will stop being a barrier in front of the problems of Europe. We will leave you to your own worries," Erdogan added to cheers, without specifying further.
Armenians say some 1.5 million of their people were killed in a genocidal campaign by Ottoman forces -- ordered by Minister of War Enver Pasha and other top officials -- to wipe them from Anatolia.
But Turkey insists similar numbers of Muslims and Armenians were killed during wartime conflict sparked when Armenians joined forces with invading Russian troops in the hope of carving out their own state.
In his newspaper interviews, Erdogan expressed disappointment over the conduct of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stayed away from the debate, saying he wished she had taken part "and cast her vote".
"Now I wonder how, after such a decision, German officials will at look me personally and our Prime Minister (Binali Yildirim) in the face," Erdogan said.