German parliament's move to vote on a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide fueled outrage in Turkey. A group of activists from the Homeland Party (VP) staged a demonstration outside the German Consulate in Istanbul to denounce the recognition vote. Protesters said German parliament has no say in recognizing genocide, a thorny issue between Turks and Armenians dating back to the last decade of the Ottoman Empire.
Armenia claims up to 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians were killed in an act of genocide by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 during World War I. Turkey refuses to define it as genocide although it accepts the mass deaths of Armenians during their forced deportation during the war, but claims the death toll was much lower and attributes the mass deaths to disease and isolated attacks.
Ankara has also urged Armenia to let historians handle the matter, but Armenia demands recognition of the incidents as genocide in order to advance relations between the two neighboring countries.
Speaking on behalf of protesters gathered outside the German Consulate in Istanbul's Beyoğlu district, VP Istanbul branch Chairman Erkan Önsel said the vote in German parliament could harm Turkish-German friendship.
The Bundestag, lower house of Germany's parliament, will vote on the issue on June 2, to the chagrin of Ankara, which called the attempt a "misuse of political power" on an issue "without any historical or legal proof." The vote will not be binding for the government but it is unanimously supported by the opposition and ruling coalition parties.
Önsel said they would join a march by several Turkish nongovernmental organizations in Germany scheduled for May 28 against German parliament's move. "It will be a historical march to the parliament and we will warn them not to make a historical mistake," Önsel said.
He then recited a letter by Doğu Perinçek, VP chairman, addressed to Bundestag President Norbert Lambert. Perinçek gained international fame for remarks deemed genocide denial and was taken to court in Europe. The politician won a legal battle at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) last year after it said he executed his right of free speech by denying the Armenian genocide in Switzerland where he was convicted. Perinçek said in his letter that Germany was a strategic ally of Turkey and one of its largest trade partners. "Recognition of genocide cannot be explained away as a legal matter. It can only be defined as outright hostility toward Turks and will certainly provoke anti-Turkish sentiment in Germany," he claimed.