stephen harper 248 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Turkey recalled its ambassador to Canada, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, after government ministers there reportedly took part in an event that labeled the Ottoman-era killings of Armenians as genocide.
Ambassador Rafet Akgunay was called back for "thorough evaluations and consultations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin said, without saying why Akgunay was recalled or for how long.
Another government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, said the ambassador was being withdrawn temporarily to protest an event earlier this week in Canada commemorating the deaths of Armenians at the end of World War I as genocide.
The official said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a message to the ceremony, which angered Turkey. Turkish news reports said Canadian government officials took part in the event.
It is the second time that Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Canada over the genocide dispute. In 2006, Turkey criticized Harper for remarks he made in support of recognizing the mass killings as genocide and briefly withdrew its ambassador. It also pulled out of a military exercise in Canada in protest.
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks - an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, contending the toll has been inflated and the casualties were victims of civil war and unrest.
Lawmakers in the United States have also introduced a resolution that would call the death genocide. If passed, the resolution could undermine efforts by US President Barack Obama's administration to win NATO ally Turkey's help on key foreign policy goals.
US legislators almost passed a similar resolution two years ago, but congressional leaders did not bring it up for a vote after intense pressure from the Bush administration.
Obama avoided the term "genocide" when he addressed Turkish lawmakers during his visit a month ago. But he said, in response to a question, that he had not changed his views. As a presidential candidate, Obama said the killings amounted to genocide.