German parliament calls for Turkey to re-examine Armenian killings

AP Worldstream; Jun 16, 2005

Germany's parliament on Thursday urged Turkey to examine its role in
the killing of an estimated 1 million ethnic Armenians a century ago,
an issue that could weigh on Ankara's hopes of joining the European
Union.

Lawmakers adopted a cross-party resolution asking the Berlin government
to press Turkey to investigate the "organized expulsion and destruction
of the Armenians" and foster reconciliation.

"The motion is passed with votes from the whole house," parliamentary
vice president Antje Vollmer announced after a show of hands in the
lower house.

Armenia accuses Turkey of genocide in the killings as part of a 1915-23
campaign to force Armenians out of eastern Anatolia. At the time,
Armenia was part of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey remains extremely sensitive to the issue. It denies that the
killings were genocide and says the death count is inflated and that
Armenians were killed or displaced along with others as the Ottoman
Empire tried to quell civil unrest.

In its motion, the German parliament said it was "convinced an honest
historical review is needed and represents the most important basis
for reconciliation."

"This is particularly true in the framework of a European culture
of remembrance which includes openly debating the dark side of each
nation's history," it said.

The motion didn't mention Turkey's bid to join the EU, but said the
Armenian issue was an example of how Turkey needs to guarantee freedom
of speech _ an area where Ankara has been told it must improve if it
is to join the 25-nation bloc.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has been one of Turkey's strongest
backers in its membership bid, but the conservative opposition _
which hopes to win elections later this year _ argues that it should
be offered a lesser "privileged partnership."