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Netherlands recognizes 1915 incidents as Armenian genocide

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The Dutch parliament on Thursday passed a motion recognizing the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 during the final days of the Ottoman Empire as genocide, although the Dutch government said it would not become the official policy of the country.

The motion, which was opposed by just three lawmakers out of 150, is likely to further strain relations between The Hague and Ankara, which have been tense since the Dutch barred a Turkish minister from campaigning in the Netherlands last year.

Turkey denies that the killings, which took place at the height of World War I, constitute genocide.

“The government will not follow the judgment of the parliament,” Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag told Dutch television before the vote.

She urged “utmost caution when applying the term genocide to past events.”

“This cabinet wants to be very careful about relations with Turkey, which have been better,” she said.

The crisis erupted between Ankara and The Hague last March when the Netherlands cancelled the flight clearance for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s airplane shortly after Çavuşoğlu warned that Turkey would impose “harsh sanctions” on the Netherlands if it were to take such a step.

Çavuşoğlu was scheduled to fly to Rotterdam for a campaign rally for a public referendum last April.

The crisis escalated when Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya was expelled from the Netherlands after she insisted on going to the residence of the Turkish consul general in Rotterdam.

Back then, the Turkish government announced a series of political sanctions against the Netherlands, including halting high-level political discussions between the two countries and closing Turkish airspace to Dutch diplomats. Other sanctions barred the Dutch ambassador’s entry back into Turkey, and a Dutch-Turkish friendship group in the Turkish Parliament was dissolved.

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