BERLIN (AFP) – Germany’s foreign minister said Friday that a parliamentary vote on Turkey’s World War I-era massacre of Armenians was non-binding, as media reported Berlin is seeking to heal a bitter spat with the NATO partner.
Already tense relations between Berlin and Ankara took a nose-dive in June after the German Bundestag voted to declare the Ottomans’ massacre of Armenians a century ago a genocide, a position Turkey vehemently rejects.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top spokesman was expected to distance her government from the resolution in an effort to appease Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reported news website Spiegel Online.
Asked about the Spiegel report, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that “the German parliament of course has the right and freedom to comment on political issues but, as the parliament says itself, not every resolution is legally binding”.
After the Armenia vote, Erdogan had reacted angrily and charged that the 11 German lawmakers with Turkish roots who backed the resolution should undergo “blood tests” to see “what kind of Turks they are”.
Turkey has since then denied German lawmakers the right to visit their national troops on the NATO air base of Incirlik, used by Western allies to fight jihadists in Syria.
There are also fears the rising discord could imperil an EU-Ankara agreement under which Turkey has moved to halt the mass flow of Syrian and other refugees and migrants into Europe.
German-Turkish relations have been under strain for some time, with Berlin also speaking out against Turkey’s tough line against critical journalists and its Kurdish minority, and the mass arrests after its failed coup in July.
Steinmeier said there had been “many areas of friction, not just since the coup attempt”, and again urged Turkey to respect the rule of law in its treatment of the tens of thousands of detainees.
Steinmeier also said that “of course it is the task of diplomats to reduce these areas of friction and to search for ways to maintain relations with Turkey and to provide a future perspective for them”.
“In recent talks we got the impression that this is an interest also shared by Turkey.”