The Lithuanian Ambassador to Turkey was summoned by Ankara following Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda’s statement that “Turkey carried out the genocide of Armenians”.
Nausėda said “Lithuania recognises” that “Turkey is a NATO ally that carried out the genocide of Armenians” during an interview with the Lithuanian news website delfi.lt. However, Turkey did not lodge a formal protest.
The Lithuanian president said “the US Congress has recently recognised [the genocide] as well,” adding rhetorically, whether one could “imagine a situation when a NATO member state would not recognise the Holocaust?”
The meeting of Ambassador Audrius Bruzga and Aylin Tashan, a representative of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, took place in the second half of November, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry told BNS.
One of the topics discussed was the “events of 1915, which part of the international community sees as Turkey’s genocide of Armenians,” according to the Lithuanian foreign ministry.
No diplomatic note was presented during the meeting, the ministry added.
Speaking with Lithuanian journalists in London on Tuesday, Nausėda said he doesn’t believe his statement would affect bilateral relations with Turkey or Turkey’s position on NATO’s defence plan for the Baltic states and Poland, now under consideration.
“That is, I would say, a thing that is always in the margins, and […] parliaments of various countries, including the US Congress […] have expressed their positions on [the Armenian genocide]. But that in no way means that any decisions need to be made tomorrow and not later,” said Nausėda.
“We were just speaking about that event and its historic assessment, and that’s all,” he added.
In a resolution in 2005, the Lithuanian parliament recognised that the Ottoman Empire carried out “genocide of the Armenian nation” during World War One, which Turkey denies.
“I would think it’s a matter of time [until Turkey recognises the genocide],” Nausėda said in the interview. “No matter how hard it [is to expect it] to happen over the next five or ten years, but I think the very fact exists, and it will be recognised one way or another.”
Turkey rejects the genocide term, stating that up to 500,000 Armenians were killed during the conflict, and a similar number of Turks.