BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel agrees with her party that the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces should be branded a genocide but will not attend a parliament vote Thursday on the issue, her spokeswoman said.
“She told me this morning that she sided with her parliamentary group,” her spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz told journalists, when asked if Merkel signaled her approval of the Armenian “genocide” resolution during a party meeting on Wednesday.
However, the German leader will not be able to attend the vote at the Bundestag due to other official engagements on her schedule, her spokeswoman said.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats and junior coalition partner Social Democrats, along with the opposition Greens, had prepared the resolution entitled “Remembrance and commemoration of the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in 1915 and 1916”, which also carries the contentious word throughout the text.
The text would be put to a vote Thursday but in the run-up to the Bundestag move, Turkey issued stark warnings that adopting the resolution would harm ties.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had also telephoned Merkel on Tuesday over the resolution, while Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called the vote “absurd.”
The vote comes at a particularly awkward time, as Germany and the European Union need Ankara to help stem a migrant influx even as tensions are rising over a string of issues, including human rights.
The issue is also particularly sensitive in Germany, as it has special ties with Ankara not least due to its three-million-strong ethnic Turkish population which settled following a massive “guest worker” program in the 1960s and 1970s.
More than 20 nations, including France and Russia, have recognized the Armenian genocide.