Germany’s parliament on Thursday approved a resolution declaring that the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces c during the First World War was a “genocide”.
The Turkish government reacted furiously to the decision of the German parliament to pass the motion, which was almost unanimous, with just one person voting against and another abstaining.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is on a state visit to Kenya, said the German resolution will seriously impact relations between the two countries.
More than 20 nations, including France and Russia, as well as Pope Francis, have recognised the 1915 killings where over 1.5 million Armenians were killed as genocide, BBC reported.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was not in the Bundestag (German Parliament) for the vote. Representatives from the Turkish and Armenian embassies were present in the German Parliament when the vote took place.
Her Christian Democrats (CDU), their coalition partners the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens all supported the resolution, and the vote in favour was overwhelming.
Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan hailed the resolution and said it was a “valuable contribution” to the “international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian genocide”.
However, Turkey has slammed the move, and has warned that it could hurt ties.
Gregor Gysi, a politician from the Left Party who was critical of Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds who were doing “an excellent job” in fighting Islamic State, said that “Germany was a historical accessory” and has a duty to recognise the mass killings of Armenians in the First World War.
“We need to call this what it was — a genocide,” he told the German parliament. “The Bunderstag should not allow itself to be blackmailed by Turkey’s threats.”
The country has denied that there was a systematic campaign to slaughter Christian Armenians as an ethnic group during the First World War. It also pointed out that many Turkish civilians also died in the turmoil during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim responded by saying he would withdraw his ambassador to Germany “for consultations”.
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus called the move a “historic mistake”.
Before the approval, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan phoned Merkel, warning that ties would suffer “if (Germany) falls into such a game”.
The parliamentary vote was originally scheduled to take place a year ago to mark the centenary of the genocide, but due to concerns over the fallout with Turkey, Merkel’s allies postponed the move.
The mass killings began on April 24, 1915, when 250 Armenian intellectuals were detained by Ottoman authorities and later executed in their capital, Constantinople, present-day Istanbul.
Most of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenians were subsequently displaced, deported or placed in concentration camps, ostensibly for rebelling against the Ottomans and siding with Russia during World War I. This affected up to 1.5 million Armenians.
Turkey — the successor of the Ottoman Empire — concedes that many Armenians were mistreated at the time, but maintains that the number of victims has been grossly exaggerated and that there was no “genocide”.