MEPs have called on Turkey to recognise the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman empire during the First World War as ‘genocide’.
Turkey opposes the use of the word ‘genocide’ and disputes that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed.
Ankara has pledged to ignore the motion; President Recep Tayip Erdogan said any such statement would go “in one ear and out from the other”.
“It’s a genocide. And we have to state that we cannot solve conflicts between nations when we are denying facts or trying to reverse them, but when we face the past honestly,” said Benedek Jávor, a Hungarian Green MEP.
Members of the Armenian diaspora want other parliaments around the world to follow suit.
“I see this as a step forward, Its better than nothing. And it shows that this question need a further solution. And it is not forgotten. I hope that this is just one step in the whole process,” said Emma Argutyan, an Armenian now living in Brussels, Belgium.
Turkey has protested against the move, saying that politicians should not interfere and leave such work to historians.
“The European Parliament has made an historical mistake again by slighting Turkey. It offends the Turks and Turkey. This is unacceptable. It is a unilateral decision without consultation or dialogue. This has no legal value. It does not matter for Turkey or for EU-Turkey relations because the European Parliament cannot speak on behalf of the European Union,” said Selim Yanel, the Turkish ambassador to the EU.
The European Parliament itself first recognised the mass killings as genocide in 1987.
Twenty countries, including France, Italy and Russia share that view.