Turkey summoned the Dutch charge d’affaires on Friday to condemn the vote to recognize as “genocide” the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.
The diplomat from the Netherlands was called to the foreign ministry in Ankara, which “condemned” the parliament’s vote, a ministry official told AFP. Thursday’s vote saw MPs voting 142 to 3 in favour of the proposal that the parliament refer to the massacre as “the Armenian genocide.”
Armenians have long sought recognition that some 1.5 million of their people were killed in a genocidal campaign in World War I by Ottoman forces — ordered by Minister of War Enver Pasha and other top officials — to wipe them out in Anatolia.
— Armenian Assembly (@ARAMAC_DC) February 22, 2018
But Turkey — the Ottoman Empire’s successor state — insists similar numbers of Muslims and Armenians were killed in a collective tragedy during the conflict and has always strongly resisted pressure to recognise that any genocide took place.
Acting Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag quickly tempered the motion, saying even though the ruling four-party coalition voted for the motion, the government will “restrain” itself.
Ankara “strongly” condemned the move, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday noting the “populist” decision was “not binding in any way” and saying it was a reflection of the increasing “racism, anti-Turkish sentiment and Islamophobia” in Europe.
Mr. Cavusoglu said the decision was “very, very wrong” and based on “limited information.”
Turkey’s E.U. Affairs Minister Omer Celik also condemned the decision, describing it as “null and void” but adding, like Mr. Cavusoglu, that Ankara “took note” of the Dutch government’s position.
But Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian welcomed the vote, saying Friday that the Dutch parliament had “yet again reiterated its commitment to universal values and the noble task of preventing from happening genocides and crimes against humanity.”
So far, parliaments in more than 20 countries, including Germany, have voted for laws or resolutions explicitly recognising the Armenian “genocide.”
The vote comes at a low point in diplomatic ties between the Netherlands and Turkey after a Dutch decision earlier this month to withdraw its ambassador.
Relations have been strained since early last year when Dutch officials stopped a Turkish minister from attending a Rotterdam rally in March. The Dutch ambassador had not had access to Turkey since March 2017.