Erdoğan raises concerns with Merkel over German draft bill on ‘genocide’

Erdoğan raises concerns with Merkel over German draft bill on ‘genocide’

Erdoğan raises concerns with Merkel over German draft bill on ‘genocide’

AFP photo

In a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 31, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raised concerns about a draft bill in the German Parliament to recognize the 1915 killings of Ottoman Armenians as genocide. 

The bill is due to be voted at parliament on June 2, and Erdoğan warned of negative effects on “economic, political and military” relations between Turkey and Germany if it is passed. 

“I think all this will be considered,” he said during a press briefing on May 31, declining to comment further on a “decision that has not been made yet.” 

Erdoğan recalled that there are 3 million Turkish-origin citizens living in Germany and bilateral relations are today at a very high level. 

Meanwhile, Merkel has called Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım in order to congratulate him on his new post, while the latter used the occasion to also voice Ankara’s uneasiness over the Bundestag’s plans to recognize the World War I killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide.

Merkel called Yıldırım and extended her wishes of success, sources from the Turkish Prime Minister’s Office told the state-run Anadolu Agency late on May 30.

“The prime minister [Yıldırım] stated that we have attached importance to improving our cooperation with Germany, which has expanded over a wide field, and continuing our high-level political dialogue,” they added.

“He emphasized that the initiative at the German parliament, which contains baseless and unfair judgments concerning the 1915 incidents, is being followed with concern by both our government and millions of Turkish citizens living in our country and Germany, and that we expect the government and the parliament of Germany to show a prudent approach on this issue,” the sources said.

Drawn up by the ruling left-right coalition and the opposition Greens, the resolution titled “Remembrance and Commemoration of the Genocide of Armenians and other Christian Minorities in 1915 and 1916” includes references to the word “genocide” throughout the text.

The killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks is widely viewed by historians as amounting to genocide. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, insisting that the toll is inflated and saying that those killed were the victims of civil war and unrest. 

A member of Turkey’s national assembly, Şirin Ünal of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), who is also the co-chair of the German Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Group, has also sent a letter to her counterpart on the issue.

Ünal called on Michelle Müntefering, fellow co-chair of the group, to act with a “prudent attitude.”

“The resulting scene in the event of approval of this resolution will not bring any benefit, either for Turkey or for Germany, or for our vitally important projects that we will continue working together on very closely,” Ünal was quoted as saying in her letter by Anadolu Agency.

Meanwhile, sources also said Yıldırım expressed in his conversation with Merkel the Turkish government’s “willingness” to continue with the recently implemented agreement on irregular migration to the EU.

“[Yıldırım] stated that Turkey has been fulfilling its part on this issue and we hope that the EU fulfills its liabilities on issues such as visa liberalization, with the financial assistance it promised to Syrian refugees in first place,” they said.