Cologne, Ankara- Turkey recalled its ambassador to Germany on Thursday after the German parliament overwhelmingly voted to label the killings of Armenians and minority Christians by Ottoman forces a century ago as genocide.
The motion, which was put forward by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition of right and left and the opposition Greens, passed with support from all the parties in Parliament. In a show of hands, there was one abstention and one vote against.
Members of the Armenian embassy in Germany were present during the vote, with the group holding up signs reading “Recognition now – thank you” at the end of the session.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian welcomed the decision. He said Germany had made a “valuable contribution not only to the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian genocide, but also to the universal fight for the prevention of genocides, crimes against humanity.”
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “this decision will seriously impact Turkish-German relations.”
Speaking during a visit to Kenya, Erdogan said recalling the ambassador for consultations was a “first step” and that the Turkish government would consider further steps to be taken in response to the vote.
Turkey’s foreign ministry also summoned the German charge d’affairs in Ankara to protest the vote as the ambassador was out of town, according to a Foreign Ministry official.
Thursday’s vote comes as Germany and the European Union are working on helping Turkey stop the flow of migrants to the European continent.
Yerevan has been seeking for a long time to garner the recognition of the genocide by the international community.
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I.
Yet Ankara refuses to use that description saying the dead were victims of civil war and unrest. Ankara also insists the death toll has been inflated.
Turkey had exercised pressure before the vote.
The Turkish prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, harshly condemned the decision as “irrational” and said it would put the friendship between the two countries to a serious test.
The issue is sensitive particularly in Germany which has special relations with Turkey because 3 million people of Turkish origin live in the country.