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GENOCIDE

German orchestra accuses Turkey in ‘genocide’ row

A German orchestra said on Saturday that Turkey attempted to pressure it and the EU to keep the term "genocide" out of a concert marking the massacres of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War I.

German orchestra accuses Turkey in 'genocide' row
Turkey has long rejected claims that the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 can be classed as a genocide. Photo: DPA

The controversy centres on texts that will be sung or spoken during the April 30 show in the eastern German city of Dresden, as well as the event's programme, which uses the word.

“It's an infringement on freedom of expression,” said Markus Rindt, director of the Dresdner Sinfoniker orchestra.

Turkey has long rejected Armenian claims that the killing of up to 1.5 million of their kin as the Ottoman Empire fell apart be classed as a genocide.

According to Turkey 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers.

Rindt said Turkey's delegation to the European Union demanded the European Commission withdraw 200,000 euros ($224,500) in funding for the concert.

The commission ultimately maintained its financial support, but asked the orchestra to not mention genocide and has removed any mention of the event from its website, Rindt said.

“We find all of this very questionable,” he added.

A commission spokeswoman confirmed that details of the concert had been pulled from the body's website.

“Due to concerns raised regarding the wording used in the project description, the Commission temporarily withdrew it,” the spokeswoman said. “A new project description will be republished in the coming days.”

Turkish diplomats in Brussels did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.

The show was first put on in 2015 to mark the 100th anniversary of the killings, and is performed by both Turks and Armenians. It was envisioned as an act of reconciliation by its creators.

The name of the production is “Aghet”, a word used in Armenian for the massacres.

 

TRAVEL

Germany lifts travel warning for four Turkish regions

Germany lifted its travel warning for several coastal regions of Turkey on Tuesday, ceding partially to weeks of campaigning by Ankara, whose tourism industry relies heavily on German visitors.

Germany lifts travel warning for four Turkish regions
Beach chairs and umbrellas at a hotel complex in Antalya, Turkey. Photo: DPA

The warning will be lifted with immediate effect for the four coastal provinces of Antalya, Izmir, Aydin and Mugla, government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said in Berlin.

“Turkey has developed a special tourism and hygiene concept for these four regions in order to realise safe tourism under the conditions of the pandemic,” Demmer said.

Turkey will require anyone travelling back to Germany to present a negative coronavirus test within 48 hours before departure.

Turkey had been one of 160 countries outside the European Union and the Schengen area for which a travel warning was in place until August 31st.

In July, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had demanded a review of the travel warning while visiting his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin.

READ ALSO: Can you be forced to take a coronavirus test after returning to Germany from a risk country?

Anyone currently arriving in Germany from areas considered to be at high risk must produce a negative coronavirus test or go into quarantine for 14 days.

Germany, which is home to a large Turkish community, makes up the biggest group of tourists by nationality in Turkey.

In a blow to tourism in Spain, Germany last week added three northern Spanish regions to its list of high-risk destinations.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's plans for mandatory Covid-19 tests for returning travellers

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