Turkey: Germany must mend ties after Armenian genocide vote

Germany needs to fix relations with Turkey after the Bundestag passed a resolution this week recognizing the Ottoman Empire's 1915 killing of Armenians and other Christians as genocide, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Friday.

"Deep rooted" Turkish-German relations have been dealt a blow by the parliamentary measure, he said. Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Berlin - with local media outlets insisting he took the first flight - and summoned the German envoy to Ankara.

Between 800,000 to 1.5 million members of the Christian minority were estimated to have died during the Armenian massacre in 1915.

As the successor to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey acknowledges some of the killings, but vehemently denies that they constitute genocide, saying people died on both sides.

It routinely lashes out when others label the deaths as a genocide, even though the condemnation is against the Ottoman Empire, not the modern state of Turkey.

"I am sure the politicians in Germany and the German government are expected to take measures to reach a better evaluation that will fix the potential damage," Yildirim said while on a visit to neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Turkish media outlets and politicians from across much of the political spectrum have been vociferous in their opposition to the German resolution, some using Nazi imagery.

"Our brother-in-arms stabbed us in the back," screamed the headline in Sabah, a daily that supports the ruling Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Star, also pro-government, had a black-and-white image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her name written under her nose in such a way as to insinuate Adolf Hitler's mustache.

"Everything for the PKK," the headline reads, referring to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party.

On the left, the Kemalist Sozcu newspaper pulled out all the stops, dressing up Merkel in a Nazi uniform, while denouncing "Hitler's grandchildren" for daring to accuse Turks of a genocide, recalling the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Papers were quick to jump on Cem Ozdemir, a German member of parliament from the Green party who is of Turkish descent, deriding him for his vote in favour of the resolution. He has also been called a "traitor."

Some outlets chose to highlight Bettina Kudla, a legislator from Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU), who was the lone member of the Bundestag to vote against the resolution, saying the matter was for historians to decide.

The media response largely echoed politicians, including top ministers and members of the AKP who dubbed it an "historic mistake," among other barbs.

"You burn the Jews in the oven and then you get up to charge the Turkish people with genocide and slander them. Go look at your own history," Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said, according to state-run Anadolu news agency, in an especially tough reaction.

Before leaving Ankara, Yildirim tempered concerns that relations would suddenly nosedive, but did pledge that Turkey would come up with the "necessary response."

"Nobody should expect our relations with Germany to get worse completely and suddenly due to such resolutions," Yildirim said.

The mood was much lighter in Yerevan, where media reported a crowd of about 100 young Armenians gathered outside the German embassy Tuesday night waving placards thanking Germany for the vote.

The vote recognized that Germany, an ally of the Ottoman Empire, had a role to play in the tragic events.

The measure was passed as Turkey and Europe are working together to stem refugee flows.

Last update: Fri, 03/06/2016 - 17:26

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