Europe

German Parliament to vote on Armenian 'genocide' motion

  • Protesters wave flags of Turkey and Germany in front of the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, June 1, 2016, as they demonstrate against a resolution of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, on the Armenian Genocide a century ago. Turkey's relations with Germany will be harmed if the parliament in Berlin votes to describe the killings of Armenians last century as genocide, the Turkish prime minister said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    Protesters wave flags of Turkey and Germany in front of the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, June 1, 2016, as they demonstrate against a resolution of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, on the Armenian Genocide a century ago. Turkey's relations with Germany will be harmed if the parliament in Berlin votes to describe the killings of Armenians last century as genocide, the Turkish prime minister said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)  (The Associated Press)

  • The seats of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Vice -Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, left, are pictured during a meeting of the German Federal Parliament, Bundestag, at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, June 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    The seats of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Vice -Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, left, are pictured during a meeting of the German Federal Parliament, Bundestag, at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, June 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)  (The Associated Press)

  • Cem Ozdemir member of the Green party with Turkish roots, speaks during a meeting of the German Federal Parliament, Bundestag, at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, June 2, 2016. The German Parliament is to vote Thursday on whether to label the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide. In the background are the empty seats of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Vice -Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, left. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    Cem Ozdemir member of the Green party with Turkish roots, speaks during a meeting of the German Federal Parliament, Bundestag, at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, June 2, 2016. The German Parliament is to vote Thursday on whether to label the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide. In the background are the empty seats of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Vice -Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, left. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)  (The Associated Press)

The German Parliament is to vote on whether to label the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide, a move that threatens to increase tensions with Turkey at a sensitive time.

The motion, which is backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc, their partners in the government, the Social Democrats, and the opposition Greens, looks set to pass with wide support on Thursday.

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event viewed by many scholars as the 20th century's first genocide.

Turkey denies that the killings that started in 1915 were genocide and contends the dead were victims of civil war and unrest. Ankara also insists the death toll has been inflated.