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Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs on Friday called the massacre of Armenians during WWI one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century, but refrained from using the word "genocide" which is strongly criticized by Turkey.
Lithuanian foreign minister comes short of calling Armenian massacre a "genocide"
© AFP/Scanpix

On Friday, the world marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the mass killing of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. Armenia claims 1.5 million people were killed in 1915-1917, and the majority of historians say it was a conscious genocide.

"It's important today to honor those victims as (the death of) 1.5 million is in fact a great tragedy and one of the greatest tragedies in the twentieth century. That's the most important thing. And everything else, let's leave it to historians, politicians and others to discuss," minister Linas Linkevičius told the Žinių Radijas news radio on Friday when asked about the recognition of the Armenian genocide.

Linkevičius also did not use the word "genocide" in his Thursday post on Twitter.

In a 2005 resolution, the Seimas of Lithuania recognized the fact that "the genocide of the Armenian nation" took place in the Ottoman Empire. Besides Lithuania, several dozen other countries have named the massacre genocide.

Meanwhile Turkey rejects the term "genocide", saying that up to 500,000 Armenians and a similar number of Turks were killed in the conflict.

US President Barack Obama also did not use the term "genocide" earlier this year, speaking about the Armenian victims.

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