Istanbul, Turkey -The European Parliament has called on Turkey to recognise the “Armenian genocide”, sparking condemnation from Ankara, which says the move is “inconsistent with international law”.
“Armenia and Turkey should use the centenary of the Armenian genocide to renew diplomatic relations, open the border and pave the way for economic integration,” a statement by the EU legislature said on Wednesday after it adopted a non-binding resolution on the issue.
The Members of the European Parliament (MEP) also called on Turkey to open its archives and “come to terms with its past”.
The EU institution praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials for “offering condolences and recognising atrocities against the Ottoman Armenians”.
Ankara agrees that many Armenians died in ethnic fighting and the deportation process between 1915 and 1917, during World War I, putting its estimate at 300,000 causalities.
Armenia says 1.5 million died in the whole process, including the march to Syria, in what they claim to be genocide. The accusation is denied by Turkey, who says there was no systematic attempt to destroy Armenians.
The centenary of the 1915 killings is to be commemorated on April 24.
MEPs invited Armenia and Turkey to use examples of successful reconciliation between European nations by ratifying and implementing, without preconditions, the protocols on the establishment of diplomatic relations, opening the border and actively improving their relations.
‘Parliament’s jurisdiction exceeded’
In a statement made right after the resolution was passed, the Turkish foreign ministry said that the resolution was “inconsistent with international law” and it “exceeded the institution’s jurisdiction”.
“We don’t take seriously this resolution that slaughters history and law,” the statement said.
“Through the resolution it passed, the European Parliament has repeated the mistake it made in the past,” it added.
The European Parliament described the killings as a “genocide” in 1987 and has passed similar resolutions affirming its view in the years 2000, 2002 and 2005, calling on Turkey to recognise it as such too.
Avni Ozgurel, a Turkish political analyst, told Al Jazeera: “It is not a surprising resolution. Armenian diaspora have been effectively lobbying for such resolutions as the centenary of the 1915 incidents approached.”
He added: “This resolution is almost the same with the 1987 resolution in terms of content. It creates no legal responsibilities towards Turkey. However, it is still an important resolution, which is likely to push Turkey to take on certain initiatives in the field of public diplomacy.”
Earlier on Wednesday, President Erdogan said that Ankara did not care about the European Parliament’s resolution.
“It is not possible for Turkey to accept a such a crime,” he said.
“It is hard for me to understand why our nation or media acts so defensively on the issue. I don’t have any worries to defend [Turkey] as the president.”
Pope Francis used the word “genocide” for the 1915 killings on Sunday in a move that angered Ankara, which called back its Vatican ambassador for consultations.
Countries such as Russia, Canada, France, and Italy recognise the 1915 incidents as “genocide”. It is a crime to deny the “Armenian genocide” in Switzerland, Cyprus, Slovakia and Greece.