Turkey returns ‘genocide’ motion to European Parliament

Turkey returns ‘genocide’ motion to European Parliament

Turkey returns ‘genocide’ motion to European Parliament

AFP Photo

Turkey has returned to the European Parliament an April 15 motion describing the mass killing of Ottoman Armenians during World War I as genocide, as a senior EU official warned Ankara about the consequences of its reaction to statements made by countries and organizations labeling the mass killings genocide. 

The European Parliament sent its motion to the office of the Permanent Delegation of Turkey to the EU on April 29, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported. The office returned the motion on April 30, with a statement by the Permanent Delegation of Turkey attached.

The European Parliament’s motion came days after Pope Francis provoked fury in Turkey by using the same term. 

In a swift response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said “the European Parliament repeated the same exact mistake it made in the past, by being incompatible with international law and exceeding its competence.”

“We return this text, which is an unprecedented example of incoherence in all aspects, verbatim to the abovementioned institution so that the text finds its place among the documents that the European Parliament will shy away from remembering in the future,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released on April 15, only hours after the adoption of the motion in Brussels. 

Almost simultaneously with Ankara’s move of returning the motion, the commissioner in charge of EU enlargement argued that Turkey’s backlash against European countries calling the 1915 killings genocide will complicate Ankara’s ambitions to join the EU.

Commissioner Johannes Hahn told Austrian newspaper Der Standard on April 30 that Ankara’s “very harsh” reaction should be seen in the context of the upcoming June elections. 

“This [response] may be quite popular in parts of the country and among certain parts of the population. But what worries me are the long-term consequences,” Hahn said. “The seeds of an anti-European and anti-Western stance are thus sown, which, from today’s perspective, make a future [EU] entry very difficult.” 

Turkey denies that the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in what is now Turkey during the height of World War I constitutes genocide. Relations with the state of Armenia are still blighted by the dispute. 

Turkey has rebuked several EU members including Germany and Austria whose parliaments used the word in resolutions marking the 100th anniversary of the event in April.