Turkish Anger Over Bundestag Resolution On Armenian Genocide

The Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Have Born Witness to Protests from the Turkish Community

June 07th, 2016
Laura Serra, News from Berlin

German MPs have passed today, a symbolic resolution that recognizes the World War I massacre of 1.5 million Armenians and Christian minorities by the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

The Brandenburg gate and the Reichstag have witnessed protests over the past week from several Turkish associations. Over a thousand Turks demonstrated against the resolution arguing that the Bundestag is not a court and does not have the right to make judgements such as this. German lawmakers claim to have been bombarded with hate mail and insults on social media due to their support for the motion. The Turkish community maintains that it was a mere act of war and should not be considered genocide. A letter signed by more than 500 associations argued that most of the Turkish population rejects the accusation of genocide, and that passing such a resolution would threaten the peaceful coexistence of Turks and Germans in both countries.  

Turkish PM Yildirim argued that the 3.5 million Turks living in Germany are the biggest asset to their bilateral ties, and that this vote is a test of the friendship between the two countries. Crucially, this vote comes in at a time when Germany is depending on Turkey to contain the flow of refugees in exchange for cash, visa-free travel rights and accelerated talks on EU membership. President Erdogan warned that bilateral ties would be damaged by a positive vote. German officials hope it will not affect the refugee deal, and Jung, senior lawmaker in Merkel’s CDU, claimed that we can only hope this is an overreaction by the Turkish side.

Today’s vote was originally scheduled to take place last year, but the governing coalition pressured for it to be postponed, and it was eventually brought back to the Bundestag through the efforts of the Green party. Eleven EU countries, including France, have passed similar resolutions throughout the years. When Austria did so last year, Turkey recalled its ambassador from Vienna and claimed relations had been damaged with permanent negative effects.

The resolution acknowledges the role played by the German Empire, which was aware of the massacre but did not take action to stop it, and also makes references to the Holocaust.

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