German Lawmakers Label Armenian Massacres a Genocide

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Germany’s parliament on Thursday approved a motion calling the killing of more than a million Armenians by Ottoman Turks a genocide, in a move that could further strain ties with Turkey as Berlin relies on Ankara to help keep Europe’s migrant crisis in check.

German Lawmakers Label Armenian Massacres a Genocide

The resolution to label the 1915-1916 massacres a genocide had overwhelming support despite more than a year of backstage efforts by the government to water down a text that has already caused considerable ire in Ankara.

“The Armenians’ fate is exemplary of the history of mass destruction, ethnic cleansing, expulsion and genocide that has marked the 20th century in such a terrible way,” said the motion, which also notes what it calls Germany’s complicit silence at the time, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The vote is a setback for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, which has been at pains to avoid riling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an awkward ally in Berlin’s efforts to curb the recent inflow of migrants and refugees to Europe. This alliance has damaged Ms. Merkel’s ratings as Mr. Erdogan faces mounting criticism for his crackdown on domestic critics and Kurdish separatists.

Germany’s foreign ministry long argued that the term genocide could only be applied to events that took place after the 1948 United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Such misgivings held up a vote on the text for months until the opposition eventually forced it on the agenda.

Turkey has long accepted some responsibility for the massacres that left an estimated 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians dead—and even apologized for them—but it insists they didn’t constitute genocide. Ankara attributes the deaths to wartime developments that devastated not only Armenians, but large swaths of the Ottoman population. It made its views clear in the run-up to the vote.

The European parliament and a score of countries—including France, Italy and Greece but not the US—have already adopted genocide as their official description of the massacres.

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