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Turkey should share Armenia's grief, recognise genocide: French president

French President Francois Hollande was joined by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic at a ceremony in Yerevan commemorating the Ottoman massacres, 24 April 2015.
French President Francois Hollande was joined by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic at a ceremony in Yerevan commemorating the Ottoman massacres, 24 April 2015. Reuters/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

French President Francois Hollande has urged Turkey to recognise as genocide the Ottoman empire’s massacre of Armenians during World War I.

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"Important words have already been said in Turkey, but others are still expected so that shared grief can become shared destiny," Hollande said at a ceremony in Yerevan Friday which marked 100 years since the mass killings of roughly 1.5 million people.

Turkey has rejected the use of the term "genocide" and argues that only up to 500,000 Armenians and as many Turks were killed mostly due to war and starvation.

France is one of around 20 countries to officially recognise the Armenian genocide.

Ankara on Wednesday recalled its ambassador to Vienna in response to Austrian lawmakers' decision to condemn the massacre as genocide, as it did earlier this month with its envoy to the Vatican after Pope Francis described the killings as "the first genocide of the 20th century."

US President Barack Obama only described the massacres as "terrible carnage" in comments Thursday, pointedly declining to use the word genocide.

Hollande was joined in Yerevan Friday by Russian President Vladimir Putin and delegations from around 60 countries, and a procession of hundreds of thousands were expected in a procession to lay flowers at a hilltop memorial commemorating the victims.

"I bow down in memory of the victims and I come to tell my Armenian friends that we will never forget the tragedies that your people have endured," Hollande said during the ceremony.

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