"It is true that our ambassador to Canada was recalled to Ankara for comprehensive consultations," Burak Özügergin told the Anatolia news agency. But he did not say for how long Ambassador Rafet Akgünay would stay here. Turkey is upset, however, that Canadian officials reportedly attended an event Monday commemorating the deaths Armenians at the end of World War I as genocide. Daily Hürriyet reported that the event in Ottawa was organized to mark the fifth anniversary of a vote in Canada's parliament to recognize the killings as genocide.
It is the second time that Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Canada over the genocide dispute. In 2006, Turkey criticized Canadian Prime Minister Stephen 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.
Kory Teneycke, a spokesman for the PM, said last night the Turkish position is not a new one. "The Canadian government's position is long-standing and has been affirmed by all-party resolutions in the House of Commons. We stand by our position and it's not done with any intent to offend."
Lawmakers in the U.S. have also introduced a resolution that would call the deaths genocide. If passed, the resolution could undermine efforts by President Barack Obama's administration to win help from NATO ally Turkey on key foreign policy goals.
U.S. 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, although he did say that he had not changed his views. During his presidential campaign in 2008, Obama said the killings amounted to genocide.