Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office hit back Monday at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a blistering row over a German parliamentary vote declaring the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against Armenians, Agence France Presse reports.
Erdogan has angrily condemned last week’s vote on the World War I massacres, charging that the 11 German MPs with Turkish roots who backed it supported “terrorism” by the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), and demanding “blood tests” to see “what kind of Turks they are.”
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert Monday said that while Berlin also considers the PKK a terrorist group, “to associate individual members of parliament with terrorism is utterly incomprehensible to us.”
“The resolution was a political initiative that emerged from the midst of the Bundestag, which is a democratically elected, independent organ under our constitution,” Seibert told a regular press conference.
“The Bundestag reached a sovereign decision. That must be respected,” Seibert said, adding that this was the message Merkel had given to the Turkish president.
Erdogan – in a bitter reaction to the vote to recognize the 1915-1916 killings as genocide – singled out German Greens party co-leader Cem Ozdemir, one of the instigators of the resolution passed on June 2.
Ozdemir has been placed under police protection after receiving anonymous death threats.
The Turkish community in Germany – which broadly opposes the genocide vote – nonetheless criticized Erdogan Monday for the pressure his government and its supporters had placed on German lawmakers of Turkish origin.
“We find death threats and demands for blood tests abhorrent,” its chairman Gokay Sofuoglu told national news agency DPA.
“I think the era when people were defined by their blood ended in 1945. This is absolutely out of place.”