Germany risked alienating the European Union’s key partner in curbing the flow of migrants to Europe after its parliament approved a motion Thursday that labels the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide.

 

People protest with Turkish and German flags in Berlin on June 1.

 

Parliament speaker Norbert Lammert said Turkey’s government was not to blame for what happened around the time of World War I, “but it shares responsibility for what happens with it in the future.”

 

“(We have) seen that an honest and self-critical appraisal of the past does not endanger relations with other countries,” he said. “In fact, it is a precondition for understanding, reconciliation and cooperation.”

 

Armenians say that up to 1.5 million of their people were killed a 100 years ago when the Turkish government sought to expel and massacre Christian Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Turkey says the number is far lower and that other Turks also died during the killings. Ankara disputes that the event is tantamount to genocide.

 

More than 20 countries and organizations including Russia and the Vatican recognize the Armenian genocide. The United States does not.

 

President Obama called the killings “the first mass atrocity of the 20th century” in a statement marking Armenian Remembrance Day on April 24, but he stopped short of calling it genocide despite a 2008 campaign pledge to do so.

 

“I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed,” Obama said in April.

 

While Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim previously said the outcome of the vote would not have any impact on the EU’s agreement with Turkey to stem the migrant influx, he described the symbolic vote as a “true test of friendship.” Turkey’s PresidentRecep Tayyip Erdogan said diplomatic ties with Berlin would suffer.

 

 

 

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