Turkey Accuses Pope of 'Religious Discrimination' After Genocide Comment

Turkey reasserts its aversion to the term 'genocide,' claims that the Pope's bias will not bolster peace efforts.

Pope Francis, right, participates in the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Catholicos Karekin II, left, at the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral in Etchmiadzin, Yerevan, Armenia, June 26, 2016.
Andrew Medichini / AP

Turkey says Pope Francis's recognition of the Ottoman-era killings of Armenians as genocide during his visit to Armenia won't help efforts to establish peace and stability in the Caucasus region.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said Monday that the pope had again "disappointed" the Turkish people with remarks and accused him of "bias" and "religion-based discrimination" against Turkey.

Francis has said the 1915 slaughter by Ottoman Turks of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians constituted planned "genocide" during his three-day visit.

Turkey rejects the term genocide, saying the death toll cited by historians is inflated and that people died on both sides of the conflict. When Francis first used it last year, Turkey recalled its ambassador for 10 months and accused the pope of spreading lies.