The German Parliament is about to officially recognize the Armenian genocide. This step is expected to further exacerbate the relations between Berlin and Ankara, which are already under pressure due to the refugee crisis as well as visa liberalization. Turkey opposes the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, which, by many accounts, amounted to a systematic extermination of the Armenians under the Ottoman Empire during the World War I. The number of victims is estimated at between 800,000 and 1.5 million.
Analysts generally expect a strong negative reaction from Ankara if Bundestag votes as expected. The vote in favor of the recognition will also likely weaken Chancellor’s Merkel position towards Turkey. Turkey does not have an official thesis on the Armenian issue and Ankara’s formal stance is that the death of Armenians during the “”relocation” and “deportation” was a tragedy and cannot be labeled as “genocide”. Turkey uses a number of diverging justifications to support its official position such as that the killings were not systematically orchestrated or deliberate or that the killings were justified because Armenians posed a pro-Russian threat.
In Turkey, there is a major opposition lobbying against the recognition of the genocide that has already warned that the relations with Germany could be damaged as a result of the Bundestag’s vote. In an open later, an association committed to opposing the genocide said that it was following the developments in Germany “with concern” and added that the recognition would be a “historic mistake” and would put strain on the mutual relationship between both sides exactly at the time when they should work together as closely as possible. German Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier commented that he hoped that “the German-Turkish relationship will not be burdened by the resolution and we can continue to work well together.”