Istanbul, Turkey — Turkey has pulled out of a military exercise in Canada and hinted at economic repercussions against France, stepping up protests of accusations that Turks committed genocide against Armenians during World War I.
Ankara this week briefly recalled ambassadors from NATO allies France and Canada to protest the Canadian prime minister's declaration last month that the killings of Armenians constituted genocide, and a French bill that would outlaw denying that Armenians were genocide victims. The ambassadors returned Thursday after four days in Turkey.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Thursday that it was pulling out of an Air Force training exercise in Canada, to which it had been expected to send officers and several F-16 fighters.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million Armenians died or were killed over several years as part of a genocidal campaign to force them out of eastern Turkey. Turkey acknowledges that large numbers of Armenians died, but says the overall figure is inflated and that the deaths occurred in the civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.