French President Emmanuel Macron has declared April 24 as “a national day of remembrance of the Armenian genocide.”
Macron, in keeping with a 2017 campaign promise, told an annual dinner of the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations in France that France was among the first nations to denounce “the murderous hunt of the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire.”
France officially recognised the Armenian Genocide in 2001 and a law in 2016 made it illegal to deny that status.
Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One, but contests the figures and denies the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.
The Council of Europe and European parliament have both recognised the massacres as genocide, as has Pope Francis. However some other countries, including the UK, have said the evidence is not strong enough.
Macron said he informed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the decision in advance, adding that he wanted to keep an open dialogue with Turkey.
“We have disagreements over the fight against the Islamic State, human rights and civil liberties in Turkey and on the genocide,” Macron said.
“We also have points of agreement such as the necessity for a political transition in Syria. As such, dialogue with Turkey is indispensable,” Macron said.