Genocide label heightens Turkish-German tensions

The German parliament has voted to label the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide, prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador to Germany.

The motion, which was put forward by chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition of right and left and the opposition Greens, passed with support from all the parties in parliament.

In a show of hands, there was one abstention and one vote against.

The vote heightened tensions between Germany and Turkey at a time when Ankara is playing a key role in stemming the flow of refugees to Europe.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “this decision will seriously impact Turkish-German relations”.

Speaking during a visit to Kenya, Mr Erdogan said recalling the ambassador for consultations was a “first step” and that the Turkish government would consider further steps to be taken in response to the vote.

Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim called the German decision a “historic error”. Mr Yildirim said that Turkish people take pride in in their past and that “there is no event in our past that would cause us to bow down our heads in embarrassment”.

Armenia’s foreign minister welcomed the vote.

Historians estimate that up to 1.5m Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of the First World War, an event viewed by many scholars as the 20th century’s first genocide.

Turkey denies that the killings that started in 1915 were genocide and contends the dead were victims of civil war and unrest. Ankara also insists the death toll has been inflated.

Ms Merkel was not present for yesterday’s vote, with officials citing scheduling reasons. Her foreign minister, who, like Ms Merkel, backed the motion, was on a trip to Latin America.

Opening yesterday’s debate, parliament speaker Norbert Lammert acknowledged that addressing historical events can be painful.


Lifestyle

Spring has sprung and a new Munster festival promises to celebrate its arrival with gusto, says Eve Kelliher.Spring has sprung: Munster festival promises to celebrate with gusto

The spotlight will fall on two Munster architects in a new showcase this year.Munster architects poised to build on their strengths

Prepare to fall for leather, whatever the weather, says Annmarie O'Connor.Trend of the week: It's always leather weather

The starting point for Michael West’s new play, in this joint production by Corn Exchange and the Abbey, is an alternative, though highly familiar, 1970s Ireland. You know, elections every few weeks, bad suits, wide ties, and a seedy nexus of politics and property development.Theatre Review: The Fall of the Second Republic at Abbey Theatre, Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner