Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denied the World War I killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide, just days after his government offered condolences over the massacres for the first time.

During an interview on Bloomberg TV’s Charlie Rose show, Erdogan was asked if it would be possible for him to describe the deaths of Armenians as a genocide, to which he replied. “This is not possible because if such a genocide had been the case, would there have been Armenians living in this country?” Erdogan told US broadcaster PBS on Monday.

“We are a people who think genocide is a crime against humanity and we would never turn a blind eye to such action,” he added.

Erdogan last week offered his condolences over the 1915 massacre, calling it “our shared pain” in a statement issued on April 23rd.

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