Erdogan completely rejects genocide accusation, slams Berlin

Germany has no right to comment on genocide, given its own history during World War II and in Namibia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday, rejecting a measure in the German parliament.

"We will never accept the accusation of genocide," Erdogan said, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency, referring to a German resolution on the massacres of ethnic Armenians and other Christian minorities during World War I by the Ottoman Empire.

He also said Ankara must be treated fairly when it comes to solving shared problems, otherwise Turkey will cease to be a "barrier" for Europe and let the EU handle its issues on its own.

Media outlets earlier quoted Erdogan, in interviews given while on a trip to Africa, as slamming German Chancellor Angela Merkel for failing to stop the vote recognizing the massacres as genocide, claiming she had pledged to do what she could to prevent it.

"Now I wonder: How will German leaders be able, after such a decision, to face me and our prime minister in person," he said in interviews published in several newspapers, including the daily Hurriyet and the pro-government Yeni Safak.

He declined to specify what measures Turkey would implement in response, but did not rule anything out, including sanctions, saying the government was still carrying out evaluations. Ankara has already recalled its ambassador to Berlin.

He warned that Germany could lose an "important friend," and pointed to the large Turkish population living in the country. 

In his fiercely critical speech in Istanbul, which had a harsher tone than in the newspaper interviews, the president said Germany is the primary nation in the world associated with genocide.

Erdogan insisted in the interviews that the vote was a Turkish-German matter and would not pertain to the wider deal with the EU to stem flows of migrants to the bloc. 

However, he remained critical of Europe's progress on its side of the agreement, including on transferring promised funds to aid refugees in Turkey. He warned the deal could still be halted.

A key matter in the deal is visa-free access for Turkish citizens to the bloc, which is being held up by Ankara's refusal to narrow its anti-terrorism laws, in line with an EU demand.

Between 800,000 to 1.5 million members of the ethnic Armenian community and other Christian minorities were estimated to have died during the Armenian massacre in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire was collapsing.

As the successor to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey acknowledges some of the killings, but vehemently denies that they constitute genocide, saying people died on both sides.

Last update: Sat, 04/06/2016 - 20:39

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