The German government hit back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday after he branded as terrorists ethnic Turkish members of Germany’s parliament who voted for a resolution recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide.
Addressing a rally in Turkey, Erdogan said the 11 lawmakers are "the long arm of the separatist terrorists” operating in his country. He demanded “blood tests” to see “what kind of Turks they are.”
A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced Erdogan’s remarks, saying that “to associate individual members of parliament with terrorism is utterly incomprehensible to us.”
“The resolution was a political initiative that emerged from the midst of the Bundestag, which is a democratically elected, independent organ under our constitution,” Steffen Seibert told a press conference, according to the AFP news agency.
“The Bundestag reached a sovereign decision. That must be respected,” Seibert said, adding that this was the message Merkel had given to the Turkish president.
Erdogan reportedly singled out German Greens party co-leader Cem Ozdemir, a key sponsor of the resolution overwhelmingly passed by the Bundestag on Thursday. Ozdemir was placed under police protection after receiving anonymous death threats.
Some of the other ethnic Turkish lawmakers also reported such threats. “I am seriously worried,” one of them, Ozcan Mutlu, told ARD television on Sunday. “I've never experienced this. Some manic, crazy person might hear that and think 'the leader has given his orders'.”
The Turkish community in Germany, which opposed the genocide resolution, also criticized Erdogan on Monday. “We find death threats and demands for blood tests abhorrent,” its chairman, Gokay Sofuoglu, told the DPA news agency.
Ankara, which maintains that the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey did not constitute genocide, recalled its ambassador to Berlin for consultations immediately after the Bundestag vote.
Armenia, by contrast, welcomed the German recognition of the genocide. President Serzh Sarkisian thanked Merkel, Bundestag speaker Norbert Lammert and German President Joachim Gauck in separate letters.