Tyrkias statsminister Recep Tayyip Erdogan truet torsdag med å utvise 100.000 armenere hvis USA gjør alvor av å ratifisere resolusjonen om folkemord. De 100.000 er ikke tyrkiske borgere og «jeg trenger ikke ha dem i mitt land», slik ordla Erdogan seg. Armenias statsminister sa det fremkalte minner om 1915.

«There are currently 170,000 Armenians living in our country. Only 70,000 of them are Turkish citizens, but we are tolerating the remaining 100,000,» he told the BBC Turkish service.

«If necessary, I may have to tell these 100,000 to go back to their country because they are not my citizens. I don’t have to keep them in my country.»

Armenia believes Turkey killed over 1 million Armenians when they were deported from Turkish Armenia in 1915 and sent to Syria or Palestine.

Erdogan’s threat to expel tens of thousands of immigrants was criticised by the Armenian prime minister, Tigran Sarksyan.

«This kind of political statement does not help improve relations between the two states,» he said.

«I agree with the assessment that when the Turkish prime minister allows himself to make such statements, the events of 1915 immediately return to our memory.»

Turkey’s reaction to the US vote in particular has led to speculation that the country may prevent the US army’s use of the Incirlik air base in south-east Turkey, which provides logistical support to troops travelling to and from Iraq.

Turkey experienced a huge influx of people from Armenia after the country’s devastating earthquake in 1988. Thousands of illegal Armenian immigrants work in low-skilled jobs in Turkey, although there is dispute over the exact number.

Armenian immigrants had been permitted to work in Turkey as a «display of our peaceful approach,» Erdogan said, but he added: «We have to get something in return.»

Turkish PM threatens to expel 100,000 Armenians over genocide vote

Tayyip Erdogan says he ‘may have to tell these 100,000 to go back to their country’ after the 1915 Ottoman killings vote