EU parliament urges Turkey to recognise 'Armenian genocide'16 april 2015, 11:44
The European Parliament on Wednesday urged Turkey to use the centenary of Ottoman-era massacres to "recognise the Armenian genocide" and help promote reconciliation between the two peoples, AFP reports.
The parliament voted "by a wide majority," according to the session chair, in favour of the resolution as tension grows over the characterisation of the tragedy ahead of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 killings of Armenians during World War I.
The parliament said it welcomed as a "step in the right direction" remarks by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and others "offering condolences and recognising atrocities against the Ottoman Armenians."
Turkey is seeking to become a member of the European Union but its accession talks have stalled amid EU misgivings over Ankara's human rights record and civil society reforms sought by Brussels.
Urging Ankara to go further, the resolution "encourages Turkey" to use the anniversary "to recognise the Armenian Genocide and thus to pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples."
It also called on Ankara to open "archives and come to terms with its past" while inviting "Armenia and Turkey to use examples of successful reconciliation between European nations."
In 1987, the European Parliament described the killings as a "genocide."
The use of the word by Pope Francis on Sunday infuriated Ankara, which rejects the extreme term, but MEPs lauded his move.
During a debate on the resolution, conservative German MEP Elmar Brok said: "My own people committed genocides."
He said there was "a moral obligation" to recognise and commemorate such massacres.
"Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died at the hands of the Ottoman empire's henchmen," he said.
Bulgaria's European Commission vice-president Kristalina Georgieva told the parliament the EU "fully acknowledges the significance of the upcoming commemoration as well as the divergence of views over this tragedy."
As a member of the EU executive that deals with Turkey, she steered clear of using the word genocide herself.
"Regardless of the words we use to describe those awful events, there can be no denial of their awful reality," Georgieva said.
Armenia and Armenians in the diaspora say 1.5 million were killed by Ottoman forces in a targeted campaign to eradicate the Armenian people from what is now eastern Turkey.
Turkey takes a sharply different view, saying hundreds of thousands of both Turks and Armenians lost their lives as Ottoman forces battled the Russian Empire for control of eastern Anatolia during World War I.
Ahead of the vote, Erdogan said Turkey would ignore the resolution, adding "it would go in one ear and out from the other."