Germany angers Turkey with ‘Armenia genocide’ vote

German MPs approve motion describing 1915 killings of Armenians as a “genocide”, prompting Ankara to recall ambassador.

The German parliament has overwhelmingly voted to label the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as “genocide”, prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador to Germany.

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 casualties. Armenia says 1.5 million died in the process in what it calls a “genocide”.

The motion, which was put forward by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition and the opposition Greens, was passed on Thursday with support from all the parties in the German parliament.

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But Turkey reacted with fury, recalling its ambassador to Berlin, Hüseyin Avni Karslioglu, “for consultations over the German parliament’s decision”, government officials told Turkish media.

Speaking during a visit to Kenya, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the recall was a “first step”, adding that the Turkish government would consider further action in response to the vote.

“This decision will seriously impact Turkish-German relations,” he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called the German parliament’s decision “a mistake”.

‘Strategic ties are great’

The vote on Thursday came at an awkward time for Merkel as Germany and the European Union rely on Turkey to help stem the flow of refugees into Europe. 

Merkel, who did not take part in the vote due to “public engagements”, spoke later about the close ties between the two countries, saying that Germany’s relations with Turkey remain “broad and strong.

“There is a lot that binds Germany to Turkey and even if we have a difference of opinion on an individual matter, the breadth of our links, our friendship, our strategic ties, is great,” Merkel said at a news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

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She added that Germany supported dialogue between Turkey and Armenia and sought good relations with Ankara.

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said the German parliament’s decision was a “valuable contribution” to the “international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian genocide”.

‘Moral decision’

Huseyin Bagci, a professor of International Relations at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, told Al Jazeera that he expected further fallout between Turkey and Germany following the vote.

“The decision of the German parliament is a moral decision, not a political one.

“This decision has no binding consequences for Turkey,” he said, adding that “the Turkish side will show a great reaction to this”.

On the centenary of the events, which was commemorated on April 24, 2015, the European Parliament published a non-legislative resolution in which they urged Turkey to recognise the genocide. 

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Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies