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President Gauck spoke on the eve of a debate in the German parliament
on the issue

German President Joachim Gauck has described as "genocide" the
killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, a move likely to cause outrage
in Turkey.

He was speaking on the eve of a debate in the German parliament on
the issue.

The Armenian Church earlier canonised 1.5 million Armenians it says
were killed in massacres and deportations by Ottoman Turks during
World War One.

Turkey disputes the term "genocide", arguing that there were many
deaths on both sides during the conflict.

On Friday commemorations will mark the 100th anniversary of the

German 'responsibility'

Speaking at a church service in Berlin, President Gauck said: "The
fate of the Armenians stands as exemplary in the history of mass
exterminations, ethnic cleansing, deportations and yes, genocide,
which marked the 20th Century in such a terrible way."

Mr Gauck, who holds a largely ceremonial role, added that Germans also
bore some responsibility "and in some cases complicity" concerning
the "genocide of the Armenians". Germany was an ally of the Ottoman
Empire during World War One.

His comments come as the German parliament, the Bundestag, prepares
to debate a motion on the 1915 massacres.

But instead of a clear statement of condemnation, politicians will
discuss an opaque, tortuously-worded sentence, which aims to be unclear
enough to keep everyone happy - with the sort of convoluted phrasing
that the German language is so good at, the BBC's Damien McGuinness
in Berlin reports.

Germany joins Armenia genocide debate

Explosive issue

Earlier on Thursday, the Armenian Church said the aim of the
canonisation ceremony near the capital Yerevan was to proclaim the
martyrdom of those killed for their faith and homeland.

Bells tolled at the symbolic time of 19:15 local time to mark the
centenary of the killings

After the ceremony, bells tolled in Armenian churches around the world.

The beatification at the Echmiadzin Cathedral did not give the specific
number of victims or their names.

It is the first time in 400 years that the Armenian Church has used
the rite of canonisation.

The use of the word "genocide" to describe the killings is
controversial. Pope Francis was rebuked recently by Turkish President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan for describing it as the "first genocide of the
20th Century".

On Friday, a memorial service will be held in Turkey and its prime
minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has said the country will "share the pain"
of Armenians.

However, he reiterated Turkey's stance that the killings were not

"To reduce everything to a single word, to put responsibility through
generalisations on the Turkish nation alone... is legally and morally
problematic," he said.

Mr Davutoglu did acknowledge the deportations, saying: "We once again
respectfully remember and share the pain of grandchildren and children
of Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives during deportation in 1915."

What happened in 1915?

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died in 1915 at the hands of the
Ottoman Turks, whose empire was disintegrating.

Many of the victims were civilians deported to barren desert regions
where they died of starvation and thirst. Thousands also died in

Armenia says up to 1.5 million people were killed. Turkey says the
number of deaths was much smaller.

Most non-Turkish scholars of the events regard them as genocide - as
do more than 20 states, including France, Germany, Canada and Russia,
and various international bodies including the European Parliament.

Turkey rejects the term genocide, maintaining that many of the dead
were killed in clashes during World War One, and that many ethnic
Turks also suffered in the conflict.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress