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European Parliament votes to call Armenian massacre 'genocide'

The European Parliament has approved a resolution "to recognize the Armenian genocide" a century ago by Ottoman Turkish forces. Turkey has dismissed the resolution, which commends recent comments by Pope Francis.

The European Parliament approved a motion on Wednesday that commemorates the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians during World War I in 1915, labeling it a "genocide."

The non-binding resolution passed by a large majority with a show of hands.

Before the vote, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would ignore the result, and that "it would go in one ear and out the other." Turkey is strongly opposed to qualifying the deaths as genocide, saying that hundreds of thousands of both Turks and Christian Armenians lost their lives in the struggle between the Ottoman forces and the Russian Empire over eastern Anatolia during World War I.

Nonetheless, the resolution welcomed remarks by Erdogan and others "offering condolances and recognizing atrocities against the Ottoman Armenians." It urges Ankara to go further and "recognize the Armenian Genocide and thus to pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples."

The resolution repeats language used in 1987, when the European Parliament defined the killings as a "genocide."

It comes days after the use of the term by Pope Francis sparked fury in Ankara, with the Turkish government summoning the Vatican ambassador in Istanbul. Wednesday's resolution in Brussels defends the pope, commending his weekend message.

During the debate in Brussels, conservative German MEP Elmar Brok said there was a "moral obligation" to recognize and commemorate such massacres.

"My own people committed genocides," Brok said.

The German parliament is also set to discuss the issue later this month.

jr/bw (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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