(AA) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has described the 1915 events as “genocide” in his government’s message of condolences to the Armenian premier Hovik Abrahamyan.
This comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin also used the term “genocide” in his message to a commemoration ceremony in Moscow last week.
Putin later delivered a speech in the Armenian capital Yerevan, where he did not repeat the term.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Medvedev said: “During these days, we are commemorating the victims of one of the most tragic events in history: the Armenian Genocide. We are mourning those killed a century ago as the result of mass repressions in the Ottoman Empire.”
In the wake of Turkey’s reaction against Moscow’s stance, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia hoped relations between Moscow and Ankara would continue to develop and that they thought Putin’s trip to Yerevan to participate in the commemoration ceremony would not strain these ties.
When Austria and the Vatican described the events as genocide, Ankara withdrew its ambassadors. However, Turkey did not announce any diplomatic response to comments from Russia’s leaders.
The Turkish government has called for the establishment of a joint commission to uncover the events of 1915, when a portion of the Ottoman Armenian population rose up to side with invading Russian forces.
In the relocation of Armenians that followed, many died although Turkey strongly refutes claims that it was genocide.