(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 Armenia’s 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 Armenia’s 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."