2, June 2016
The German parliament has approved a resolution recognizing as genocide the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago, in a move which risks damaging ties between Berlin and Ankara. On Thursday, the lower house of the German legislature, Bundestag, voted overwhelmingly for the motion, which is symbolically significant and has no legal effect.
“With one vote against and one abstention, this resolution has been passed by a remarkable majority of the German Bundestag,” said Norbert Lammert, the Bundestag president. Titled “Remembrance and commemoration of the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in 1915 and 1916,” the motion was put forward by the ruling left-right coalition and the opposition Greens.
The resolution uses the word “genocide” in the headline and text. It says Germany – the Ottoman Turks’ main military ally at the time – bears some guilt for doing nothing to stop the killings. It also calls on the German government to “encourage” Turkey to “deal openly with the expulsions and massacres” so as to “lay the necessary foundation stone for reconciliation with the Armenian people.”
Armenia says up to 1.5 million of its nationals were killed between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, but Turkey argues that it was a collective tragedy, during which 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and as many Turks lost their lives. Yerevan has long sought international recognition of the genocide, but Ankara dismisses the term. Over 20 countries, including France and Russia, have recognized the Armenian genocide.
Reactions to ‘genocide’ resolution.Yerevan praised the recognition, with Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan saying, “Armenia welcomes the adoption of the resolution by the Bundestag.” However, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus denounced the German parliament’s move as “null and void.”
He said on his official Twitter account on Thursday that the “recognition of ‘distorted and groundless’ allegations as ‘genocide’ is a historic mistake.” Kurtulmus further noted that the decision was not beneficial for friendly Ankara-Berlin relations, warning that his country “will give an appropriate response to this decision on every level.”
In addition, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Ankara has recalled its ambassador to Berlin for consultations over what he called a “historic error” by the German legislature. Speaking at a speech in the Turkish capital of Ankara, the premier further blamed a “racist Armenian lobby” for the move by German lawmakers.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned that the decision “will seriously impact Turkish-German relations.” Speaking during a visit to Kenya, Erdogan said recalling the ambassador for consultations was a “first step,” adding that the Turkish government would consider further steps in response to the vote. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the German embassy in Ankara said Germany’s charge d’affaires has also been summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.