German President Joachim Gauck speaks during an Ecumenical service marking the 100th anniversary of the Turkish genocide of Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks, at the cathedral in Berlin April 23, 2015

Berlin — In a speech given at an ecumenical Church service of the Catholic and Evangelical Churches at the Cathedral in Berlin on Thursday 23rd April, German president Joachim Gauck described the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide, marking a shift in his country’s stance that previously avoided the word.

Gauck stated, “We commemorate in this hour the hundreds of thousands members of the Armenian people, who have become victims of planned and systematic killings a century ago. Indiscriminately, men and women, children and old men were deported, sent on death marches, exposed to the desert without any protection and without any food, burned alive, hounded, beaten and shot to death. This planned and calculated criminal act faced the Armenians for one reason: because they were Armenians. Similarly, it hit her fellow sufferers, the Assyrians or Syriacs and the Pontic Greeks.

President Gauck added that “the fate of the Armenians is exemplary for the history of mass destruction, ethnic cleansing, expulsions and genocides which marks the 20th century in such a terrible way.”

Elaborating on the role of Germany who was allied with Turkey during the World War I, the President said “In this case we Germans must come to terms with the past regarding our shared responsibility, possibly shared guilt, for the genocide against the Armenians.”

German lawmakers are set to debate expected to overwhelmingly pass a resolution referring to the Armenian massacres as genocide on Friday, April 24th.

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