June 1, 2016 / 8:47 AM / 3 years ago

Armenia to German lawmakers: don't bow to Erdogan in genocide vote

BERLIN (Reuters) - Armenia’s president has urged German lawmakers not to be cowed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s warnings of damage to Berlin-Ankara relations and to go ahead with a motion declaring a 1915 mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces genocide.

Armenia's President Serzh Sargsyan addresses a news conference after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The opposition Greens have pushed the resolution onto the agenda at a time when Chancellor Angela Merkel, driving force behind an EU-Turkey deal cutting the number of illegal migrants entering Europe, can ill afford frictions with Erdogan.

German lawmakers are expected to approve a symbolic resolution on Thursday that labels the killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians “genocide”. It follows similar steps pressed in other parliaments, including France, Canada and Germany.

“I am sure: the politicians in the Bundestag see it the same way and will not allow themselves to be intimidated,” President Serzh Sargsyan told German mass-selling daily Bild in an interview published on Wednesday.

“If one makes compromises for short-term political interests, then one ends up doing so again and again. And that is bad for Germany, that is bad for Europe and the world.”

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians were massacred in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One. But it denies that hundreds of thousands were killed, that there was any organised campaign to wipe out the Armenians or that there were any such orders from Ottoman authorities.

Erdogan said at a televised news conference on Tuesday that the German parliamentary resolution would damage ties between Ankara and Berlin.

The migrants deal between the EU and Turkey has eased political pressure on Merkel at home. But it has been under a cloud since its strongest proponent in the Turkish government, Ahmet Davutoglu, was pushed out as prime minister last month.

Since then, Erdogan has questioned aspects of the agreement and some of his allies have even threatened to unleash a new wave of refugees on Europe.

“I have the feeling that this deal is anyway built on sand and, with a partner like Turkey, will be difficult to implement over time,” Sargsyan said.

The resolution, which is formally supported by Merkel’s conservative bloc, the centre-left Social Democrats and the Greens, uses the word “genocide” in the headline and text.

Writing by Paul Carrel; editing by Ralph Boulton

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