Turkey continues to heap scorn on Vatican over Pope Francis's remarks on Armenian mass killings, saying the pontiff has joined a conspiracy campaign kick-started by an "evil front".
Speaking at a meeting organised to release the manifesto of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said: "Currently, an evil front is being formed against us. Now the pope has joined this conspiracy."
He was referring to the main opposition political parties, Republican People's Party (CHP), and People's Democratic Party (HDP) for spearheading the conspiracy at the behest of the "foreign" interests.
"I am addressing the pope: Those who escaped from the Catholic inquisition in Spain found peace in our just order in Istanbul and İzmir. We are ready to discuss historical issues, but we will not let people insult our nation through history," said the Turkish premier, speaking about the Sephardic Jews who fled the region in the 15th century and sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire.
Ankara has been on a stinging offensive ever since Francis mentioned the Armenian mass killings as "the first genocide of the 20th century". The pope made the remark during a mass at St Peter's Basilica.
About 1.5 million Armenian Christians were killed by Ottoman forces in 1915 and 1916. However, Turkey strongly contests the death toll and the cause of the fatalities. Turkey contests the use of the term genocide as it claims most of the deaths were a consequence of World War I.
The European Parliament is also set to discuss a resolution to mark the 100th anniversary of the killings but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his country will disregard any view of the assembly.