Turkey summons Dutch charge d'affaires over Armenian 'genocide' motions

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey summoned the Dutch charge d’affaires to Ankara on Saturday to express its unhappiness with a pair of proposed bills that would see the Netherlands recognize as genocide the 1915 killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians.

The four Dutch governing parties have expressed support for two proposals by the conservative Christian Union party which are due to be debated in parliament in coming weeks. One recognizes the deaths as genocide and a second calls for a Dutch official to attend the country’s formal genocide remembrance day on April 24.

The bills risk further souring relations between Turkey and the Netherlands.

Turkey accepts many Christian 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.

It also says many Muslim Turks perished at that time.

The relationship between the Netherlands and Turkey is already tense, since the Netherlands refused Turkish ministers access to the country to campaign for a 2017 referendum that gave President Tayyip Erdogan more power.

“The politicisation of 1915 events by taking them out of historical context is unacceptable,” Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.

“Our views and expectations on this issue, which is an indicator of whether the Netherlands has the will to normalize ties with our country, have been expressed to the Dutch charges d’affaires,” Aksoy added.

Talks to repair relations between the two countries have broken down and the Netherlands on Feb. 5 officially recalled its ambassador to the country.

Nearly a dozen other EU countries have passed similar resolutions to that proposed in the Netherlands. French lawmakers officially recognized the Armenian deaths as genocide in 2001.

Editing by David Holmes