BERLIN (AP)—Germany’s Parliament is set to use the term genocide in a resolution marking the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks 100 years ago, and the government said today that it “stands behind” the motion drawn up by the ruling parties.
A draft of the non-binding motion to be debated Fri., April 24, says the Armenians’ fate is “exemplary for the history of mass destruction, ethnic cleansing, expulsions and genocides by which the 20th century is marked in such a terrible way.” It stresses Germany’s awareness of the “uniqueness” of the Nazi Holocaust.
Germany’s government so far has avoided referring to the slaughter of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide. Turkey vehemently rejects using the term for those killings.
However, there were consultations between lawmakers and the government on the resolution, and government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that “the government, after the talks that have taken place, stands behind this motion.”
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Monday’s edition of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that “one could want to summarize what happened then in the term ‘genocide,’ and I can well understand the reasons and certainly the feelings for that.”
He added, however, that he is concerned that “an ever more charged political debate in Ankara and Yerevan could complicate or even make impossible what really matters,” the beginning of a “serious dialogue” between Turks and Armenians.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition has a huge parliamentary majority and the motion’s passage looks assured.
That could further anger Turkey, which is already fuming about Pope Francis’ description of the slaughter as “the first genocide of the 20th century.”
Turkey has insisted that the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest, not genocide. It recalled its ambassador to the Vatican following the pontiff’s comments, and also was angered by a subsequent European Parliament resolution commemorating “the centenary of the Armenian genocide.”