BERLIN/ANKARA: Turkey recalled its ambassador to Germany on Thursday in protest against a parliament resolution declaring the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a “genocide” at a time when Europe is looking for Ankara’s help in the migrant crisis.
Turkey rejects the idea that the killings of Christian Armenians during World War One amounted to a genocide. Its Deputy Prime Minister said the vote was a “historic mistake”.
Even before Germany’s Bundestag lower house of parliament passed the symbolic resolution by an overwhelming majority, Turkey’s prime minister had condemned the motion as “irrational” and said it would test the friendship between the NATO partners.
Within two hours, Turkey had recalled its ambassador to Germany for consultations and summoned a top German diplomat to the foreign ministry in Ankara, according to officials.
Armed riot police were deployed outside the German consulate in Istanbul, near Taksim square, in case of protests.
President Tayyip Erdogan, in Nairobi, said the resolution would seriously affect relations with Germany and the government would discuss what steps Ankara would take.
“The way to close the dark pages in your own history is not by besmirching the history of other countries with irresponsible and groundless parliamentary decisions,” tweeted Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
A spokesman for the ruling AK Party responded swiftly to the vote, saying it had “seriously damaged” relations.
The timing could not be worse for Merkel, who is relying on the success of an EU-Turkey deal she has championed to stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for cash, visa-free travel rights and accelerated talks on EU membership.
In an indication of how sensitive the issue was, she did not take part in the vote due to “public engagements”. Later, however, she put the emphasis on the close ties between the two countries.