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German parliament’s ‘genocide’ motion remains undecided

German opposition has called for a clearer reference on the 1915 'genocide' claim and demanded a concrete policy from the government acknowledging the term.

24.04.2015
German parliament’s ‘genocide’ motion remains undecided

BERLIN

Despite anticipation that the German parliament would agree on a motion to describe the Armenian tragedy as “genocide” to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1915 events, the ruling German coalition and opposition parties could not come to a common page on the wording of the draft Friday.

Earlier in the day, lawmakers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc and its coalition partner Social Democrats submitted a controversial draft motion in the parliament, which backed Armenian claims about the 1915 events despite calls by Turkey not to politicize the tragic events.

"The destiny of Armenians during the First World War constitutes an example for the history of mass destructions, ethnic cleansings, forced deportations and yes, genocides in the 20th century," the joint draft said.

Social Democrat lawmaker Dietmar Nietan claimed that Germany bears "a moral responsibility" for what he labeled as "Armenian genocide" because back then the Ottomans and Germans were allies during the First World War.

Christian Democrat lawmaker and head of the Foreign Affairs Committee Norbert Roettgen said that the German parliament should clearly label the tragedy of 1915 as "genocide.”

"We owe this to the victims and their relatives," he argued.

But the ruling and opposition parties could not agree over a common wording for the motion, as the opposition Left Party and The Greens argued for a clearer reference on the "genocide" claim and demanded a concrete policy from the German government acknowledging the term.

The opposition Green Party’s co-chair Cem Ozdemir hoped the governing and opposition parties would reach an agreement within weeks.

"After today’s discussions, I do not think that it would be difficult to reach an agreement between the ruling and opposition parties on a joint draft," Ozdemir told reporters at the parliament.

"All the party groups used the term genocide today. Without doubt, the new draft motion will include the word genocide," he said.

The fate of the motion was now expected to be decided in the coming week when the foreign affairs committee of the parliament convenes. Parliament Speaker Norbert Lammert, who also described the tragedy of 1915 as “genocide” Friday, announced the referral of the draft motion to the parliamentary committee for further deliberation.

Germany’s three-million-strong ethnic Turkish community has strongly criticized the parliamentary motion for being one-sided, and based on anti-Turkish sentiments.

Bekir Yilmaz, director of the Turkish Community in Berlin, or the TGB, had warned in a press conference Wednesday that politicizing the 1915 events would harm reconciliation efforts between Turks and Armenians, and further alienate Turkish immigrants in German society.

Thousands of Turkish immigrants are expected to rally in Berlin on Saturday to protest against allegations claiming "genocide" was committed against Armenians in 1915.

Turkey has called for the establishment of a joint commission of historians and the opening of archives to study and uncover what happened between the Ottoman Empire and its Armenian citizens.

The 1915 events took place during World War I when a portion of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with the invading Russians and revolted.

The relocation by the Ottomans of Armenians in eastern Anatolia following the revolts resulted in numerous casualties. Turkey does not dispute that there were casualties on both sides, but rejects the definition of "genocide."

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