By Ruzanna Khachatrian
A deputy speaker of Bundestag, the German parliament, used the word “genocide” on Thursday to describe the massacres of some 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Antje Vollmer told reporters during a visit to the genocide memorial in Yerevan that the mass killings and deportations of 1915 were “the first genocide of modern history.”
Vollmer is a member of the Green Party, a junior partner in Germany’s center-left coalition government. Her comments, made on the second day of an official visit to Armenia, apparently reflected her personal opinion on the issue.
Official Berlin has strongly opposed attempts to have Germany recognize the Armenian genocide, fearing that such a move could spoil its relations with Turkey. Earlier this year, the cabinet of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder spoke out against a draft resolution in Bundestag condemning the killings as a genocide. The pro-Armenian bill, put forward by the opposition left-wing Party of Democratic Socialism, was rejected by the majority of lawmakers.
Meeting with Vollmer later in the day, the Armenian parliament speaker, Armen Khachatrian, said his country has “great sympathy with the German people who have made a big contribution to the world civilization.” Khachatrian welcomed what he called a growing German interest in the South Caucasus. Vollmer said Germany is ready to help Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia settle regional conflicts peacefully.