Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused German lawmakers of Turkish origin in the German parliament of having “tainted blood” after they backed a resolution recognizing massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
Eleven German MPs with Turkish roots, led by the co-chairman of The Greens Cem Ozdemir, backed the resolution which has caused acrimonious exchanges between Ankara and Berlin.
“Do occasionally some people that have tainted blood turn up? Of course they do. But our nation gives them the lesson they deserve,” Erdogan said in a speech late Wednesday.
He said that such people with “tainted blood” include “terrorists” and their supporters, in reference to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
“And, sometimes they are members of parliament in Germany that accuse their own country of genocide,” he said, according to the text of the speech on the presidential website.
Erdogan, who shortly afterwards left on a trip to the United States to attend the funeral of boxer and civil rights campaigner Muhammad Ali, emphasized that his comments were not to be understood in a biological or racial way.
“In our culture, saying someone has ‘tainted blood’ is a reference to their character. It means someone that wrongs his own people and insists on engaging in bad deeds,” he added.
Erdogan’s comments went a step further than remarks at the weekend where he suggested the MPs should undergo blood tests to see “what kind of Turks they are”.
Germany’s foreign ministry on Tuesday asked in the Turkish charge d’affaires to say that recent statements about German MPs were met with “incomprehension”.
According to the Hurriyet daily, a group of Turkish lawyers calling itself the Struggle for Justice Association has filed a complaint with prosecutors asking for the 11 MPs to be charged with “insulting Turkishness and the Turkish state”.
Armenians say 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 from Anatolia.
But Turkey insists similar numbers of Muslims and Armenians were killed during wartime conflict and has always fiercely resisted pressure to recognize that any genocide took place.