Germany plans to recognize Armenian genocide in spite of Turkey’s warnings

Published June 2nd, 2016 - 11:00 GMT
Armenians hit Hollywood for massacre anniversary. (File photo)
Armenians hit Hollywood for massacre anniversary. (File photo)

German lawmakers were preparing Thursday to vote in favour of a resolution that recognizes the Ottoman massacres of Armenians in 1915-16 as genocide - a move that is likely to antagonize Berlin's already-strained relationship with Ankara.

Successive Turkish governments have vehemently rejected the use of the term genocide to describe the mass expulsion and killings of as many as 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, of which Turkey is the successor state.

"Our intention is not to put Turkey in the dock, but to acknowledge that reconciliation is only possible if the facts are on the table," Volker Kauder, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, told public broadcaster ARD ahead of the vote on Thursday.

The fact that Turkey is "doing great things" to support the European Union in managing the refugee crisis "does not to change the facts - that unspeakable suffering was imposed on the Armenians," said Kauder, the leader of Merkel's Christian Democrats in the Bundestag.

Cem Ozdemir, a Green lawmaker of Turkish descent whose party has been the main proponent of the resolution, said Thursday that the German Reich's complicity in the World War I killings meant that his country "has to acknowledge its share of the blame."

Thursday's vote was originally scheduled for last year, but was put on ice for fear of damaging German-Turkish relations. Support for a revised resolution from Merkel's conservative political bloc and the Greens should ensure its passage through parliament.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim have expressly warned that bilateral, economic and military ties between Ankara and Berlin will suffer if German lawmakers vote to designate the killings as genocide.

Merkel, her Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will not be present at the vote. A spokeswoman for Merkel said Wednesday that the chancellor had backed the resolution during a test vote earlier in the week.

Twenty governments including France, Italy and Russia have officially designated the Ottoman killings of Armenians as genocide. The Pope referred to the events as "the first genocide of the 20th century" last year.


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