Despite a barrage of pressure from Turkey, the German parliament has approved a symbolic resolution that declares the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces in 1915 to be genocide
The vote was almost unanimous in support of the resolution with just one MP voting against and another abstaining. The move was largely expected and was supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel
However, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Ankara will take retaliatory measures after the German parliament voted to recognize the Armenian massacre as genocide and Turkey has already recalled its ambassador to Germany in protest.
Ambassador Huseyin Avni Karslioglu is expected to fly back to Turkey on Thursday afternoon, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Turkey has also decided to summon Germany’s charge d’affaires to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara following the vote.
The Turkish government reacted furiously to the decision made by the German parliament to pass the motion, which was almost unanimous, with just one MP voting against and another abstaining.
President Erdogan, who is currently on a state visit to Kenya, has said the German resolution will seriously impact relations between the two countries.
He added that following the return of ambassador Karslioglu to Turkey, the government would discuss what steps Ankara will take in response.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim condemned the German parliament vote and said in a speech in the Turkish capital that a “racist Armenian lobby” was responsible for the decision.
The ruling AK Party in Turkey said the move had seriously damaged relations between the two countries, while Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus was equally scathing, calling the resolution a “historic mistake.”
In the build-up to the ballot, numerous Turkish politicians had warned that relations between the two countries would suffer if the motion was passed to recognize the mass killings during the First World War as genocide.
However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who missed the vote due to prior engagements, said that Berlin’s relationship with Ankara is broad and strong.
“There is a lot that binds Germany to Turkey and even if we have a difference of opinion on an individual matter, the breadth of our links, our friendship, our strategic ties, is great,” Merkel said, as cited by Reuters.
Turkey accepts that many Armenians died in the fighting in 1915, during the First World. However, it disputes that up to 1.5 million were killed and that this constituted an act of genocide by Turkish Ottoman forces.
Earlier this year, thousands of people around the globe took to the streets to commemorate the 1915 massacre. Last year, Austria took similar action in passing its own resolution recognizing the killings as genocide, which led to Turkey recalling its ambassador from Vienna and warning of “permanent negative effects” on relations.