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Turkey Condemns Dutch Parliament’s Recognition Of Armenian 'Genocide'

A woman is reflected in a Yerevan museum exhibit depicting "tools of genocide" in reference to the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. (file photo)

Lawmakers in the lower house of the Dutch parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution recognizing as "genocide" the 1915 massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, a move certain to heighten tensions with Turkey.

"The motion is accepted," parliamentary speaker Khadija Arib said on February 22 after the 142-3 vote in favor of the proposal.

The lawmakers also passed a separate resolution calling for sending a government representative to Armenia's capital, Yerevan, in April for the commemorations of the killings and every five years afterward.

The World War I-era mass slaughter and deportation of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks is a highly sensitive issue for Armenia and Turkey.

Armenia says it is one of the first examples of genocide in modern history, predating the Holocaust. Turkey objects, saying that Armenians died in much smaller numbers and because of civil strife rather than a planned Ottoman government effort to annihilate the Christian minority.

At least 23 countries, including France and Germany, recognize the killings as "genocide."

The Armenian Foreign Ministry welcomed the parliamentary vote, saying: "With this step, [the] parliament of the Netherlands once again reconfirmed its commitment to universal human values and the noble cause of prevention of genocides and crimes against humanity."

However, the Turkish Foreign Ministry "strongly" condemned the move, saying in a statement that the decision was not legally binding or valid. It noted that the Dutch government had said it would not become the official policy of the country.

Earlier on February 22, Dutch acting Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said the government would not follow the lawmakers' lead in recognizing the killings as genocide.

Kaag said the cabinet would "continue to exercise restraint" in the issue and continue to discuss "the question of the Armenian genocide."

Kaag also said an official representative would be sent to the commemoration ceremony in Yerevan on April 24, but insisted that it was not a sign that the Dutch government recognizes the massacre of Armenians as genocide.

"This cabinet wants to be very careful about relations with Turkey, which have been better," she said in comments before the vote.

Relations between Turkey and the Netherlands worsened in 2017, when Netherlands refused Turkish ministers access to the country to campaign for a referendum, which eventually passed, giving President Tayyip Erdogan more power.

On February 17, Turkey summoned the Dutch charge d'affaires to Ankara to express its unhappiness with the proposed parliamentary resolutions.

With reporting by AP, dpa, AFP, and Reuters