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100th Anniversary, April 2015, Armenian Genocide, Centennial, Turkey

Turkish PM’s Armenian Advisor Steps Down following ‘Genocide’ Remark

Etyen Mahcupyan during an interview with CNN Turk on April 10 (Photo: a screenshot from the interview)

Etyen Mahcupyan during an interview with CNN Turk on April 10 (Photo: a screenshot from the interview)

ANKARA (Agence France Presse)—The first ever member of Turkey’s Armenian community to hold the post of senior advisor to the Turkish prime minister has retired, an official told AFP Thursday, after he described the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as “genocide.”

The official, who asked not to be named, denied any link between the departure of Etyen Mahcupyan and the looming 100th anniversary on April 24 of the start of the 1915 killings of Armenians.

Mahcupyan, 65, “has retired on the grounds of age,” the official said, noting 65 is the age limit for all Turkish civil servants.

Mahcupyan, who was appointed last year as senior advisor to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, infuriated some within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) this week when he qualified the mass killings of Armenians as “genocide.

“If accepting that what happened in Bosnia and Africa were genocides, it is impossible not to call what happened to Armenians in 1915 genocide too,” Mahcupyan said in an interview published this week.

Turkey, which has always rejected the term genocide, has taken a defiant line amid growing tensions over the characterization of the tragedy ahead of the 100th anniversary.

The European Parliament on April 15 urged Turkey to use the Centenary of Ottoman-era massacres to recognize the Armenian Genocide and to help promote reconciliation between the two peoples.

The use of the word by Pope Francis on Sun., April 12,  infuriated Ankara and prompted Davutoglu to accuse the pontiff of “blackmail” against Turkey.

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