BERLIN: Turkey Thursday recalled its envoy to Germany and threatened consequences, in a furious reaction over the Bundestag’s decision to adopt a resolution recognising the World War I massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide.
Only one MP voted against and another abstained, as the German parliament approved overwhelmingly by a show of hands the resolution titled “Remembrance and commemoration of the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in 1915 and 1916”.
In the public gallery of the Bundestag, onlookers including members of the Armenian community held up banners saying “thank you” as the parliamentary speaker announced the result of the vote to applause.
Armenia Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian praised the decision as “Germany’s valuable contribution not only to the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, but also to the universal fight for the prevention of genocides, crimes against humanity.”
But Turkey swiftly condemned the resolution, and recalled its ambassador to Germany for consultations. Ankara also summoned the German charge d’affaires to the Turkish foreign ministry later Thursday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned “the resolution adopted by the German parliament will seriously affect relations between Germany and Turkey.”
Erdogan’s condemnation came after Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus called the Bundestag recognition a “historic mistake” and dismissed it as “null and void”.
The resolution, put forward by the ruling left-right coalition and the opposition Greens, carries the contentious word throughout and also puts partial blame on the German Empire, then allied with the Ottomans and which failed to prevent the atrocities.
The “genocide” recognition comes at a particularly awkward time as Germany and the European Union are relying on Turkey to help stem a record influx of migrants even as tensions are rising between both sides over human rights and other issues.
Yerevan has long sought international recognition of the “genocide”, but Ankara rejects using the term to describe the killings more than a century ago and argues that it was a collective tragedy in which equal numbers of Turks and Armenians died.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart.
But modern Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman empire, says that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.
More than 20 nations, including France and Russia, have recognised the Armenian genocide.
Referring to the atrocities against the Armenians, the German resolution says: “Their fate exemplifies the mass exterminations, the ethnic cleansing, the expulsions and indeed the genocides that marked the 20th century in such a terrible way.”
It also states that the “German Empire bears partial responsibility for the events”. –AFP