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Turkey slams Germany over 'genocide' speech

April 25, 2015

The Turkish foreign ministry has condemned Germany's use of the word "genocide" this week to describe the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago. The ministry warned of long-term consequences.

A woman prays in memory of the victims of mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks at the Armenia's main cathedral in Echmiadzin, April 23, 2015.
Ceremonies were held this week to commemorate Armenians killed 100 years agoImage: Reuters/D. Mdzinarishvili

The Turkish government's statement, issued late Friday, claimed German President Joachim Gauck didn't have "the right to attribute to the Turkish people a crime which they have not committed."

It also warned Germany that it had angered its large Turkish population, saying they "will not forget and forgive President Gauck's statements."

Gauck made the comments earlier in the week at a memorial service in Berlin, calling Turkey's Ottoman Empire killings of Armenians "genocide."

He also acknowledged Germany's role in the slaughter, saying rumors of the intention to wipe out the Armenian people were ignored.

Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenian people were murdered around the time of the First World War.

Turkey says the victims of the event were merely casualties of war, arguing that the toll has been exaggerated.

'Confronting history'

On Friday Germany's parliamentary speaker, Norbert Lammert, said that Germany's own history made it even more important for it to stand up on the subject.

"We Germans cannot lecture anyone about dealing with their past, but we can, through our own experiences, encourage others to confront their history - even when it hurts," he said.

Germany's parliament is expected to vote on a motion to officially declare the killings of Armenians as "genocide" before its summer break.

The draft resolution, published online earlier in the week, was careful to point out that Germany's role in the Holocaust during World War II was even worse than the Turks' attack on Armenians.

More than 20 parliaments globally now recognize the event as "genocide."

Commemorations have taken place around the world to mark the centenary of the massacre.

an/ (AP, Reuters, dpa)