Armenian genocide
A woman attends a religious service marking the anniversary of mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Empire in 1915 at an Armenian churchReuters

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan has said his country will ignore any view by the European Parliament regarding the mass killing against an estimated 1.5 million Armenians perpetrated by the Ottoman government between 1915 and 1916.

The European Parliament is due to debate a resolution to mark the 100th anniversary of the killing of the Armenians, which falls on 24 April.

"Whatever decision they may take, it would go in one ear and out the other," Erdogan was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The comments were made as tensions rose between Turkey and the Vatican after Pope Francis referred to the mass killing as "the first genocide of the 20th Century". The pope made the comment during a Mass at St Peter's Basilica, where he spoke about three tragedies in the last century.

"The first, which is widely considered the first genocide of the 20th century, struck your own Armenian people," he said, and added that the other two mass killings were perpetrated by "Nazism and Stalinism. More recently there have been other mass killings, like those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia. It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood."

Following the remarks, Turkey recalled its envoy to the Vatican and warned the pontiff not to "repeat the same mistake".

The Middle Eastern country also denied that the killings amount to genocide, arguing that the figures had been inflated and that between 300,000 and 500,000 Armenians people lost their lives.

A top Turkish Islamic cleric has also warned the Vatican that it has more to lose by digging up the past.

"If societies start to interrogate each other over past sorrows, the Vatican will suffer more than anyone else," Mehmet Gormez, Turkey's head of religious affairs, said.