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Turkey Blasts Pope's Genocide Remark

FILE - Turkish Minister for European Union Affairs Volkan Bozkir is seen in a Feb. 25, 2015, photo.

Turkey leveled a new attack Monday against Pope Francis for his contention that the Ottoman Turk massacre of Armenians a century ago constituted genocide.

"This statement is extremely controversial and it is not based on any historical documents," said Volkan Bozkir, the Turkish minister for European Union affairs. "Turkey will not accept this statement and considers it as null and void.''

Ankara recalled its ambassador to the Vatican on Sunday after the pontiff described the massacre in 1915 of as many as 1.5 million Armenians as "the first genocide of the 20th century."

Pope Francis said that "concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it."

Muslim Turkey has acknowledged that Christian Armenians died in clashes with the Ottoman Turks, but angrily denies that the massacre amounts to genocide. Turkey said the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

The European Union Monday urged Turkey and neighboring Armenia to normalize ties in the aftermath of the controversy over the remarks the pope made during a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Turkey and Armenia signed an accord in 2009 to open their borders and establish diplomatic relations, but it has not been implemented. The European Parliament is marking the 100th anniversary of the massacre in Brussels on Wednesday.

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