German President Joachim Gauck described the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as “genocide” at a church service on Thursday, the day before German parliament is due to debate the issue. “The fate of the Armenians stands as exemplary in the history of mass exterminations, ethnic cleansing, deportations and yes, genocide, which marked the 20th Century in such a terrible way,” Gauck said. Earlier Thursday, the Armenian Church canonized 1.5 million Armenians it said were killed in massacres and deportations by Ottoman Turks during World War I. Turkey has disputed the claim of “genocide,” arguing that there were deaths on both sides of the conflict. Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the killings. President Barack Obama has pledged solidarity with Armenians but avoided calling the incident “genocide” in a statement.