The massacres of Christian Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was a genocide, the German Bundestag has decided. The century-old event still leads to boiling conflict between European countries.
On Thursday the German Bundestag passed a resolution stating that the Ottoman Empire's massacres of Armenians during World War should be seen as a genocide. Except from the left party Die Linke, all parties stand behind the resolution.
There is generally no disagreement that deportations and massacres occurred. But rather what word to use. Turkey, which is the Ottoman Empire's direct successor, believes that the Armenians supported the Russians and thus had a part in the war. The Ottoman Empire fought on the German side during the First World War.
The decision will worsen relations between Germany and Turkey "on diplomatic, economic, commercial, political and military levels," warned President Erdogan at a press conference in advance. He also appealed directly to Chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone conversation:
- We expect common sense.
Shortly after the decision became known Thursday, the Turkish authorities described it as "a historic mistake" and said that it was invalid.
The fresh Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, told Merkel that the resolution is "unfair".
1,5 million Turkish citizens live in Germany. About as many have Turkish roots and German citizenship. Now, over 500 Turkish organizations in the country have drafted a letter that they encourage people to send to politicians in protest. In the letter it is emphasized that the decision is like "poison for the peaceful coexistence of Germans and Turks in this country".
German politicians have also received a lot of hate mail and threats, not at least those of Turkish origin. Cem Özdemir, leader of the Greens, said that he has been called "traitor," "Armenian pig", "son of a whore", "Armenian terrorist" and even "a Nazi".
In Turkey there is an overwhelming consensus that the massacres should not be called genocide, and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a devout Muslim, is also a huge fan of the Ottoman Empire.
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