Germany hits back at Erdogan comments in Armenia row

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has angrily condemned last week`s vote on the World War I massacres.

Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel`s office hit back on Monday at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a blistering row over a German parliamentary vote declaring the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against Armenians.

Erdogan has angrily condemned last week`s vote on the World War I massacres, charging that the 11 German MPs with Turkish roots who backed it supported "terrorism" by the banned Kurdish Workers` Party (PKK), and demanding Sunday that they undergo "blood tests" to see "what kind of Turks they are".

But Merkel`s spokesman Steffen Seibert said that while Berlin also considers the PKK a terrorist group, "to associate individual members of Parliament with terrorism is utterly incomprehensible to us".

 

Integration Minister Aydan Ozoguz labelled the terrorism claim "incredible" and said it "represents a severe test for German-Turkish relations".

The June 2 vote added yet another bone of contention to Turkey`s troubled relationship with the European Union, and comes as the 28-nation bloc is banking on Ankara to block the flow of migrants into Europe.

Seibert made clear that "the resolution was a political initiative that emerged from the midst of the Bundestag, which is a democratically-elected, independent organ under our constitution".

"The Bundestag reached a sovereign decision. That must be respected," Seibert said, adding that this was the message Merkel had given to the Turkish president.Erdogan -- in a bitter reaction to the vote to recognise the 1915-1916 killings as genocide -- singled out German Greens party co-leader Cem Ozdemir, one of the instigators of the resolution.

 

Ozdemir has been placed under police protection after receiving anonymous death threats.

Integration Minister Ozoguz, of the Social Democrats, said that "the death threats against us, members of the German Bundestag, are absolutely unacceptable and deeply shock me".

"I expect that Parliament will now clearly express its solidarity with us and will not leave us alone in this," she told national news agency DPA.

The Turkish community in Germany -- which broadly opposes the `genocide` vote -- nonetheless also criticised Erdogan on Monday for the pressure his government and its supporters had placed on German lawmakers of Turkish origin.

"We find death threats and demands for blood tests abhorrent," its chairman Gokay Sofuoglu told DPA. 

"I think the era when people were defined by their blood ended in 1945. This is absolutely out of place."

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