BERLIN (Bloomberg/DPA)–Straining relations with Turkey–the German Bundestag parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday condemning the massacre of up to 1.5 million ethnic Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire 90 years ago.
The resolution criticized the current government of Turkey for "neglecting to address the issue" in a forthright manner.
Turkey’s foreign minister Abdullah Gul denounced the resolution as "irresponsible–appalling and injurious" to relations between the two countries.
"We note this decision with regret and we strongly condemn it," said a statement released by the foreign ministry. The statement accused the resolution of being rooted in "domestic politics" and called it "irresponsible and narrow-minded."
The extent of the massacres and deportations of Armenia’s is still being played down or denied by the modern Turkish government–contradicting the idea of reconciliation promoted by the European Union–according to the motion–which was submitted by all parliamentary groups. It stopped short of describing the killings as genocide.
"The lower house of parliament regrets that an extensive discussion of events in the then Ottoman Empire still is not possible and that academics and writers who want to look into this part of Turkish history are being prosecuted and defamed," the motion said.
Turkey denies allegations that the Ottoman Empire’s treatment of its Armenian subjects in 1915 was a planned genocide–arguing that an Armenian rebellion caused clashes and the resulting deaths. The European Union–with which Turkey is due to start membership talks Oct. 3–has said the dispute with Armenia clouds Turkey’s bid to join.
"It’s not possible to accept the notion of `genocide’ without relying on documen’s and information," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a news conference in Beirut–Lebanon on Thursday. "We are proud of our history. Therefore we cannot stand by while this issue is being used as a political tool–as free political capital by lobby groups."
Turkey should take responsibility for the deaths because the evidence of genocide is "abundantly documented," the Purdue University–Indiana-based International Association of Genocide Scholars said in a letter to Erdogan on April 6.
During a visit to Turkey on May 4–German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder urged the Armenian government to accept a proposal by Turkey that scholars from both countries study the genocide claims.
More than 1 million Armenia’s died in massacres–on death marches through the Syrian desert or in camps–the German parliamentary motion said. Acknowledging the former injustice would help normalize the relationship between Armenia and Turkey and stabilize the Caucasus region–it said.
The lawmakers said Turkey is showing some positive signs that it is beginning to address the issue–such as an invitation to Turks of Armenian origin by the Turkish National Assembly to talk about the crimes–an exchange of documen’s between Turkish and Armenian historians and Erdogan opening the first Armenian museum in Istanbul.
Still–they criticized the cancellation by the Turkish Justice Ministry of a conference on the subject by Turkish academics that had been due to take place in May.
The motion also expressed regret that the German government of the time didn’t act to prevent the killings even though it was aware of what was happening.