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Turkey PM stresses German alliance

June 3, 2016

Germany and Turkey have sought to prevent a Bundestag resolution on the Armenian genocide from becoming a destructive political crisis. The two allies have a lot to lose from strained relations.

Türkei PK Premierminister Binali Yildirim
Image: picture alliance/abaca/M. Aktas

Turkey's new premier Binali Yildirim has said Turkey and Germany were "two very important allies" and the world should not expect their relations to "deteriorate completely."

But the prime minister told a news conference on Friday that Ankara would not stay silent following the decision by Germany's parliament on Thursday to name the 1915 Armenian killings "genocide."

"That doesn't mean however that we will not react, that we will say nothing," Yildirim said before adding: "we will continue our relationship with our friends, our allies."

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned Thursday that he would take action - once back home from a visit to Kenya - over the Bundestag's declaration.

Reacting with verbal fury, Turkey on Thursday immediately recalled its ambassador in Berlin for consultations.

In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told journalists on Friday the two countries had wide-ranging areas of cooperation that were unlikely to be impacted.

"The relationship between Germany and Turkey is very broad and very deep," Seibert said. "Such ties can and will weather any differences."

As for the three million people from Turkey in Germany, he said "you are and remain a part of our country."

Avoid overreaction, urges Steinmeier

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for calm, saying he hoped that both Turkey and Germany would "avoid any overreaction."

Ankara has long argued that the killings during World War One were a collective tragedy in which both Turks and Armenians died. Armenians have long campaigned for the "genocide" definition.

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks in what many scholars view as the first genocide of the 20th century.

More than 20 nations, including France and Russia, have already recognized the killings as a genocide.

Thursday's non-binding Bundestag vote coincided with the EU's bid to implement a deal with Turkey to stem an influx of migrants into the bloc, as well as tensions over human rights.

Yildirim's reactions on the Armenia resolution

ipj/jm (AFP, AP)