Recep Tayyip Erdogan.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Denis CERIĆ /dc

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sharply critical of German Chancellor Angela Merkel for failing to stop a vote recognizing the 1915 killing of Armenians as genocide and did not rule out sanctions, in remarks published Saturday.

Erdogan said he did not understand why German Chancellor Angela Merkel had failed to whip her party to vote against the measure, 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, 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. 

Erdogan insisted 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.

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