German Chancellor Angela Merkel backs a parliamentary resolution declaring that the deaths of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire a century ago should be labeled as genocide, but is unlikely to be present at the vote, her spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The chancellor joined the vast majority of parliamentary members of her conservative political bloc in supporting the resolution in a test party ballot on Tuesday, the spokeswoman said.

In addition to Merkel's Christian Democrats and their Bavarian-based Christian Social Union, the resolution is also supported by the opposition Green party and, possibly, members of the hard-left Die Linke, which should ensure its passage through parliament.

But - as is the case with Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel as well as Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier - Merkel will not be present during the Bundestag vote, officials said.

Speaking on Tuesday after a phone call with Merkel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of the potential economic, political, military and diplomatic damage to Ankara's relations with Berlin if the resolution is adopted by the Bundestag.

However, in a newspaper interview published on Wednesday, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan told German lawmakers not to be intimidated by Erdogan's threats.

"It's not fair that you cannot call the genocide of the Armenians genocide just because the head of state of another country is angry about it," Sargsyan told the German daily Bild.

More than 20 nations have so far recognized the World War I-era massacres as genocide, including Switzerland, Canada and the Netherlands.

Most historians believe that up to 1.5 million Armenians died in systematic killings and deportations by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and 1916.

But Turkey, the Ottoman successor state, argues that Armenians, Turks and people of other nationalities were victims of a civil war.

Newly elected Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called the resolution "laughable" and "plucked out of thin air" in comments carried by state news agency Anadolu.

"Those incidents were the norm under the conditions of World War I in 1915, and could have happened in any society and in any country," Yildirim was quoted as saying.

The premier added that a vote in Berlin to pass the resolution "would of course damage our relations with Germany, without a doubt. And we do not want them to be damaged."

Latest news

Messi's last minute penalty saves Barcelona from shock draw

Barcelona beat Leganes 2-1 with a last minute penalty from Lionel Messi in the Spanish first division on Sunday.

At least 30 injured after explosion in Bogota

A explosion in the Macarena area of Bogota injured at least 30 people on Sunday, many of them police officers who were guarding a bull running through the streets of the Colombian capital.

Vojvodina institutions hold conference on Bunjevci's non-Croat ethnic background

There are around 16,000 members of the Bunjevci community in Vojvodina who deny their Croat ethnic background. They are represented by the Bunjevci National Council which enjoys the support of state authorities, and, since the change of government in Vojvodina, of the provincial authorities as well.

SpaceX rocket blasts off from historic launch pad en route to ISS

A commercial rocket built by SpaceX is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) with a load of research equipment, cargo and supplies, NASA said Sunday.

Defence deals worth 1.2 billion dollars announced at key UAE show

Deals worth nearly 4.4 billion dirhams (1.2 billion dollars) were reached at a major defence show that opened Sunday in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an official said.

Thousands protest in Malta against controversial press law reforms

Thousands of people attended a demonstration in Malta on Sunday, answering a call by the main opposition party to protest against what it described as a threat to democracy and freedom of expression.

London's mayor calls for Trump's state visit to be cancelled

US President Donald Trump should be denied a state visit to Britain due to his "cruel and shameful" immigration policies, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Sunday.

'Now more than ever': US scientists gird for confrontation with Trump

Normally any annual gathering of American scientists is relatively non-political. But, with Donald Trump in the White House, things are different at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Many researchers are worried about their future and are urging colleagues to protest - and remain vigilant.

Int'l conference on post-war monuments in post-communist Europe held in Zagreb

The event was organised by the Zagreb-based association SF:ius in cooperation with the Croatian chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

Serbians wouldn't go to war for Kosovo - poll

A majority of citizens in Serbia wouldn't go to war to claim back Kosovo, shows a survey conducted by the Serbian nongovernmental organisation "Belgrade Centre for Security Policy".

Grabar-Kitarovic, Lavrov find solution to air pollution caused by Bosanski Brod oil refinery

Croatia and Russia have found a solution for the problem of air pollution caused by a Russian-owned oil refinery in Bosanski Brod, northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been poisoning residents of Slavonski Brod, a town across the Sava River in Croatia, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said in Munich on Sunday.

Istria border police discover 20 migrants in van

During routine border control, police in the northern Croatian Adriatic region of Istria on Saturday discovered 20 migrants in a van driven by a Croatian national, the Ministry of the Interior said.