Feb 24 2005

German CDU to Demand Turkey Acknowledge Killings of Armenians

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Germany's main opposition parties, which
oppose Turkey's bid to join the European Union, plan to submit a
motion to parliament calling on Turkey to acknowledge responsibility
for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915.

The Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the
Christian Social Union, said the Turkish government arrested the
Armenian political elite in Istanbul in 1915, marking the start of
mass deportations and murders in which as many as 1.5 million
Armenians are estimated to have died.

The Turkish government's refusal to accept responsibility for the
crimes committed 90 years ago ``stands in contrast to the idea of
reconciliation that spearheads the shared values of the European
Union, which Turkey aims to join,'' said the draft motion, a copy of
which was e-mailed to Bloomberg News.

CDU leader Angela Merkel and CSU head Edmund Stoiber have called for
Turkey to be allowed a ``privileged partnership'' with the 25-nation
bloc. EU leaders including German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder agreed
two months ago that Turkey should start membership talks in October
this year.

Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper today called the motion an attempt by
Merkel to block the country from joining the EU. The CDU leader has
said Turkey isn't European enough in terms of its culture and history
to join the union.

``It isn't true that we want to bar Turkey from EU entry with this
proposal, but still we think it's important to honor the memory of
the Armenian victims,'' the CDU's Christoph Bergner, one of the
legislators who signed the motion, said in a telephone interview.

Germany has a part in the crimes because the government at the time
didn't act to prevent the killings in spite of detailed evidence
documented by German ambassadors in Turkey, Bergner said.

Not all CDU lawmakers back the motion.

``I reject this proposal and didn't vote for it,'' said Volker Ruehe,
the chairman of the all-party parliamentary foreign- affairs
committee, in an interview. ``I think it will be modified eventually.
We've no right to thrust this demand'' on Turkey.

The Turkish government denies accusations of genocide over the
deaths. It says the Armenians were killed during civil conflicts in
which many Turks also died. ermany