German parliamentary speaker calls killings of Armenians genocide
BERLIN -- Germany's parliamentary speaker said Friday that the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks 100 years ago was genocide, and that Germany's own Nazi past makes it important to speak out.
"We Germans cannot lecture anyone about dealing with their past, but we can through our own experiences encourage others to confront their history, even when it hurts," Norbert Lammert told Parliament.
The comments came as Parliament began debate on a non-binding motion saying the Armenians' fate is "exemplary for the history of mass destruction, ethnic cleansing, expulsions and genocides by which the 20th century is marked."
It stresses Germany's awareness of the "uniqueness" of the Nazi Holocaust, to which Lammert also alluded.
"What happed under the Ottoman Empire ... was a genocide," he said. "It did not remain the last in the 20th century."
Parliament was expected to vote to approve the motion before its summer break.
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, but Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
The German government hasn't used the term genocide, but had faced increasing pressure to do so.
On Thursday, German President Joachim Gauck labeled the killings genocide in a speech to a memorial service in Berlin.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement late Friday that Gauck doesn't have "the right to attribute on the Turkish people a crime which they have not committed."
It said that the "Turkish nation will not forget and forgive President Gauck's statements." Germany has a large Turkish minority.
In his speech, Gauck also noted that Germany, Ottoman Turkey's ally a century ago, must consider what responsibility it shares for the killings.
German soldiers were involved in planning and carrying out deportations, he said, adding that "tips from German observers and diplomats who recognized the will to destroy in the action against the Armenians were ignored."