UPDATES WITH QUOTES FROM GERMAN CHANCELLOR
BERLIN (AA) - Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to play down tensions with Turkey after the German parliament approved a resolution Thursday calling the deaths of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as “genocide”.
Addressing a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Berlin, Merkel said that despite differences on several issues, the two countries enjoy strategic relations.
“Germany and Turkey are bounded by many links. We may have different views on a number of issues, but the breadth of our relations, our friendly, and strategic ties are so great,” Merkel said in German.
She underlined that the German government would try to contribute to fostering dialogue between Turkey and its neighbor Armenia.
Her remarks came after the German parliament approved a non-binding resolution Thursday, backing Armenian claims of “genocide” during the 1915 events.
The resolution was approved by a large majority in the parliament’s lower house, Bundestag.
Only one lawmaker from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc, Bettina Kudla, voted against the motion.
It is not the task of German parliament to give historical assessments about the events in another state, Kudla said in German via her social media account @KudlaLeipzig.
Another lawmaker from Merkel’s party, Oliver Wittke, abstained.
The controversial resolution was submitted by the parliamentary groups of the ruling Christian Democrats, its coalition partner Social Democrats, and the opposition, Green Party. The Left party also backed the resolution.
Merkel, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and senior ministers did not attend the vote.
The resolution accuses the Ottoman government of 1915 of allegedly carrying out “systematic genocide” against Armenians, as well as other Christian minorities.
Turkey denies the alleged genocide, but acknowledges that there were casualties on both sides during the events taking place during World War I.
According to Turkey's viewpoint, deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 occurred after some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.