The German Parliament on Thursday approved a measure recognizing the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a “genocide,” drawing attention to the failures of similar efforts in the United States.
Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, condemned the vote and responded by recalling its ambassador from Germany. The expected backlash from Ankara comes just when the European Union is looking to the country to help stem the flow of migrants into Europe.
Multiple bills attempting to recognize the massacre as a genocide have stalled in Congress, including one that was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last year. President Barack Obama promised during his first campaign to “recognize the Armenian genocide,” but has so far failed to honor that promise.
Western historians have long used the term “genocide” to describe the killings of as many as 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. More than 20 other countries, including France, Russia and Austria, have passed similar resolutions and Pope Francis drew the wrath of the Turkish government last year when he referred to the killings as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Turkey, a U.S. partner and NATO ally, denies that there was a systematic campaign to kill Armenians and says the death toll has been inflated.