Turkey: German Vote to Recognize Armenian Genocide Will Hurt Relations

yıııllTurkish leaders are warning Germany that the countries’ relationship will be harmed if lawmakers approve a measure labeling the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

Germany’s parliament is due to vote on the bill today.

The text says the Armenian deaths are an example of the mass exterminations, ethnic cleansing, expulsions and genocides that marked the last century in a “terrible way.” It also assigns some responsibility to Germany, which was an ally of the Ottoman Empire that preceded modern Turkey.

Armenia says 1.5 million people were killed between 1915 and 1917. Turkey acknowledges that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died, but denies that their killings constituted a campaign of genocide.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Wednesday the German vote is “nonsense.”

His comments followed those Tuesday from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who said if the bill passes it will damage future diplomatic, economic, commercial, political and military relations with Germany. He spoke about the issue in a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

About 3 million ethnic Turks live in Germany, including some who demonstrated Saturday in Berlin against the bill.

Russia and France are among about 20 countries that recognize the killings as genocide. Pope Francis has too, but many countries, including the United States, do not. President Barack Obama said in April it was the first mass atrocity of the 20th century, but did not call it genocide. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has used the term “atrocity crimes” to describe the killings.

Thursday’s vote comes at a time of already tense relations between Turkey and European Union nations.