BERLIN (Reuters) — Germany’s foreign minister and the government’s top spokesman on Friday said a June parliamentary vote declaring the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a genocide was not legally binding, comments that could help mend ties with Turkey.
“The German parliament naturally has the right and the freedom to pass any resolution it likes, but the Bundestag itself has said that not every resolution is legally binding,” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters.
Steffen Seibert, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, repeated that message over and over again during a regular government news conference several hours later, while insisting that Merkel’s government was not kowtowing to demands by Turkey.
Turkey responded to the June vote by blocking German lawmakers from visiting 250 German troops at Incirlik Air Base.
Some German lawmakers, including members of the ruling right-center coalition, have said they would press withdrawal of German troops from the base unless they are allowed to visit, but Turkey insists Berlin must first distance itself from the Armenia resolution before it will change its mind.
Seibert bristled at an article in Spiegel Online saying that the government was distancing itself from the resolution before Merkel’s meeting next week with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and her counterparts from Italy and France.