Edelgard Bulmahn

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German Vice-Speaker Discusses Armenian Genocide Bill In Yerevan

Tatevik Lazarian

Germany’s parliament is pressing ahead with plans to recognize next week the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey, one of its deputy speakers, Edelgard Bulmahn, said during a visit to Armenia on Tuesday.

“It is expected that this document will be adopted by the German Bundestag on June 2,” Bulmahn said after talks with her Armenian counterpart Eduard Sharmazanov. “The resolution will condemn, first and foremost, deportations and massacres of Armenians and other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire. With this resolution, we will remember the victims of the Armenian genocide.”

“We will also condemn the infamous role which the German Empire played as Ottoman Turkey’s main ally and the German Empire’s failure to prevent those crimes perpetrated by its main ally [in the First World War,]” she told a joint news conference.

The resolution has been drafted by lawmakers representing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), and the opposition Green Party. Bulmahn, who is affiliated with the SPD, said she discussed it Sharmazanov. The latter praised her “courageous” stance on the issue.

German President Joachim Gauck described the slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire as genocide in April 2015 when he spoke at a ceremony in Berlin that marked its 100th anniversary. Gauck also suggested Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany itself might bear some of the blame for the Armenian genocide.

The Bundestag debated a corresponding resolution at the time but stopped short of voting on it after then-Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held phone talks with Merkel. Davutoglu asked Merkel to persuade the Bundestag not to “offend Turkey.”

Later in April 2015, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a scathing attack on President Gauck and Bundestag members advocating genocide recognition. “What happened during the two world wars that had been initiated by Germany in the past century is before our eyes,” Erdogan said.

Earlier this month, Turkey's ambassador to Germany, Huseyin Avni Karslioglu, warned the Bundestag against passing the resolution. “It's not the job of national parliaments to judge history,” he told the “Rheinische Post” daily.

Predictably, Armenia has welcomed German lawmakers’ plans. “We believe that by condemning the genocide of Armenians and other Christian peoples in Turkey we can prevent new genocides,” Sharmazanov said on Tuesday.

“We hope that our German colleagues will accomplish a great mission by recognizing the genocide of the Armenian and other Christian peoples in Ottoman Turkey,” added the Armenian vice-speaker.