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Armenian patriarch decries French meddling

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- The leader of an Armenian church in Istanbul said the ethnic population in Turkey wants to handle national reconciliation without foreign interference.

Ankara last week recalled its ambassador from Paris after French lawmakers made it a crime to deny that atrocities committed against the Armenia population during World War I were an act of genocide.

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Archbishop Aram Atesyan, a patriarch for an Armenian church in Istanbul, was quoted by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman as saying foreigners shouldn't interfere in Turkey's affairs.

"We have to address our problems within the country," he said. "We are in favor of solving our problems with our (Turkish) state."

Armenia accuses Turkey of committing genocide against its population during the Ottoman Empire. Recent ties are strained further over issues regarding the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an area of dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

A ruling coalition in Armenia last year said it halted ratification of an accord signed with Turkey in late 2009 aimed at normalizing relations with Ankara.

Last year, Turkey reacted angrily to a series of measures passed in Sweden and the United States that described the killing of Armenians in World War I as genocide.

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