Germany hits back at Erdoğan comments in ‘Armenian genocide’ row
REUTERS photoGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office hit back on June 6 at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a row over a German parliamentary vote declaring the Ottoman Empire “committed genocide” against Armenians a century ago.
Erdoğan has condemned last week’s vote on the killing of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during the World War I, charging that the 11 German MPs with Turkish roots who backed it supported “terrorism” by the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), and demanding “blood tests” to see “what kind of Turks they are.”
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said that while Berlin also considers the PKK a terrorist group, “to associate individual members of parliament with terrorism is utterly incomprehensible to us”.
“The resolution was a political initiative that emerged from the midst of the Bundestag, which is a democratically elected, independent organ under our constitution,” Seibert told a regular press conference.
“The Bundestag reached a sovereign decision. That must be respected,” Seibert said, adding that this was the message Merkel had given to the Turkish president.
Erdoğan singled out German Greens party co-leader Cem Özdemir, one of the instigators of the resolution passed on June 2.
A personal police guard has been given to Özdemir, who has received death threats, according to his executive assistant.
“We are in close contact with the security units. We got used to insults and swearings. However we have never received the amount of death threats we received in the recent days,” Marc Berthold said, adding that the threats were forwarded to the police.
The threats, which were sent via social media, e-mail and letters, were collected by Greens officials and the police were investigating their origins.
The number of guards assigned to protect Özdemir was not disclosed, as his family and house were also placed under protection.
“Unfortunately there are Turkish PEGIDA members. Germany doesn’t grant privilege to far rightists,” said Özdemir, referring to the far-right Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident.
“It’s said that there are far rightists in Turkey and among the Turks in Germany,” he added.
Germany’s Bundestag or lower house of parliament on June 2 overwhelmingly approved a resolution that described the 1915-16 killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as “genocide.”
Yerevan has long sought international recognition of the “genocide,” but Ankara rejects the use of the term to describe the World War I-era killings and argues that it was a collective tragedy in which an equal numbers of Turks and Armenians died.
Ankara put up fierce opposition before and after the vote, recalling the Turkish envoy to Germany and summoning the German charge d’affaires in Ankara for consultations.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also slammed Germany for approving the bill, saying his country would never accept the accusation that its forefathers committed genocide.
“Hey Germany, what do you want to do? What is your problem? First, say it. When I talked to her [German Chancellor Angela Merkel], do you know what she said to me three or four days before that incident? She said: ‘I will do my best.’ Is it your best not to attend the vote in parliament? If you had an honest manner here, you would attend. Well, a lady voted no, the second no would be your vote and I would applaud you,” Erdoğan said, adding that they were neither honest nor sincere.