BERLIN Germany's parliamentary vote declaring the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a genocide is not legally binding, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday, a move that may signal at attempt to mend frayed ties with Turkey.
Turkey vehemently denies that Armenian deaths estimated to be up to 1.5 million during World War One was genocide, disputes the figure, and reacts sharply to any such suggestion.
Since the resolution passed in June. Ankara has blocked visits by German lawmakers to 250 German troops stationed at Incirlik Air Base in support of the U.S.-led coalition's fight against Islamic State.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu this week said permission for the visits to resume would depend on the German government distancing itself from the Armenia resolution.
In what may have been a step towards this, Steinmeier told reporters:
"The German parliament naturally has the right and the freedom to pass any resolution it likes, but the Bundestag itself has said that not every resolution is legally binding."
Steinmeier, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the junior partner in Berlin's ruling coalition, did not comment directly on a report by Spiegel Online, which said Germany was preparing to distance itself from the resolution.
The magazine said government spokesman Steffen Seibert was expected to make a statement on the resolution.
Sources said government officials were due to brief parliamentary leaders on the Incirlik issue on Friday morning.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Andrea Shalal Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)