Martin Schulz, a member of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) and president of the European Parliament, strongly rebuked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his comments and threats against German lawmakers of Turkish origin over recognition of “Armenian genocide,” Spiegel Online reported on Thursday.
Schulz emphasized in a letter to Erdoğan that equating lawmakers with terrorists is an absolute violation of a taboo and that he resolutely condemns it.
“Members of parliaments that take positions within their mandates, irrespective of differences of opinion should under no circumstances be linked to terrorists,” Schulz said.
Merkel also commented on Erdoğan’s remarks on Tuesday, saying, “The lawmakers in Germany’s lower house of parliament are freely elected without exception and the accusations and statements which have been made by the Turkish side are incomprehensible.”
The chancellor added that she would push for direct talks between Turkey and Armenia.
After German parliament passed a symbolic resolution that labels the killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces during 1915 and 1916 a “genocide,” last week, there have been death threats and verbal attacks against German politicians with Turkish roots.
President Erdoğan has said German lawmakers of Turkish origin who voted for the resolution have tainted blood and that their blood must be tested in a lab.
Turkey, a majority of whose population is Muslim, accepts that many Christian Armenians died in clashes with Ottoman soldiers beginning in 1915, when Armenia was part of the empire ruled from İstanbul, but denies hundreds of thousands were killed and that this amounted to genocide.
Turkey and Armenia have a century-long conflict due to the events of 1915, which are highly disputed in both nations. Turks accept that many Armenians died in 1915 in Anatolia under the Ottoman Empire, but they deny that this number is as high as 1.5 million and instead have an official death toll of about 500,000. Turks say that the events do not constitute an act of genocide, a term that is used not only by Armenians world-wide but also Western politicians, officials, and many historians. Turks also say that many Turks and Kurds were killed by Armenian gang groups in 1915.
More than 20 nations, including France, Russia and Germany, have recognized the Armenian genocide so far.