(dpa) - All parties in the German parliament have agreed key points of a resolution which will tell Turkey to "take historic responsibility" for the 1915 Armenian genocide, a senior member of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats said Thursday.
Gernot Erler, the Social Democratic (SPD) deputy foreign affairs spokesman in the Bundestag, said the resolution due to win final approval in the coming months would have three "goals." First, Germany's parliament will recognize a limited German role in massacre of 1.2 million to 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War, said Erler in a statement.
Germany was Ottoman Turkey's main ally in the War and "partly through approval and through failure to take effective preventive measures there was a German co responsibility for this genocide."
"The (Bundestag) asks the Armenian people for their forgiveness," said Erler's statement.
Second, the Berlin parliament will call on Turkey "to halt its up until now overwhelming suppression, to take historic responsibility for the massacre of the Armenians by the Young Turk regime and to ask for forgiveness from the descendants of the victims."
Turkey's government has always insisted that there was no Armenian genocide and says a far smaller number of Armenians died during Ottoman deportations which it argues took place under war conditions and were due to an Armenian rebellion. Turkey's ambassador to Germany, Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik, has denounced the planned Bundestag resolution as containing "countless factual errors" and being written "in agreement with propaganda efforts of fanatic Armenians...."
"Its goal is to defame Turkish history... and poison ties between Turkey and the European Union," said the ambassador.
Finally, the German parliament's resolution will underline Berlin's efforts to help normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia. Germany, which has about 2.5 million resident Turks, has up until now been wary about addressing the Armenian genocide.
A member of the opposition Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU), Erwin Marschewski, said in a statement that the value system of the European Union (EU) insisted that countries "shine a spotlight on the dark pages of their history." "Recognition by Turkey to the Armenian genocide of 1915 and 1916 is important," said Marschewski.
Turkey is due to start membership negotiations with the EU in October but EU leaders say accession talks - if successful – will take up to 15 years. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is a staunch backer of Turkish EU membership and will visit Ankara and Istanbul for talks with Turkish political and business leaders on May 3 and 4.
The draft resolution being debated in Germany's parliament does not use the word "genocide" but rather refers to the "expulsion and massacres" of Armenians under the Ottoman Turks in 1915 as part of ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the killings. "We purposely left out the ... term genocide," said Christoph Bergner, an opposition Christian Democrat, in a speech to parliament.
The declaration says between 1.2 and 1.5 million Christian Armenians died or were killed by the Moslem Turks during "planned" deportations during the First World War.
Armenians all over the world will on April 24 mark the 90th anniversary of the start of what most international historians describe as a genocide lasting from 1915 to 1923 which left up to 1.5 million people dead.