German Parliament Deals Fatal Blow To Turkish Denial of Genocide

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German Parliament Deals Fatal Blow To Turkish Denial of Genocide

By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

Last week, there were three important countries that had not yet recognized the Armenian Genocide: Germany, the United States and Great Britain.

Following last Thursday’s action by the German Bundestag (parliament), there are now only two major countries left that are still in denial: the United States and Great Britain.

Just a few months ago, if anyone had said that Germany would adopt a resolution on the Armenian Genocide anytime soon, we would have questioned that person’s sanity.

There are several reasons why the German Parliament’s decision is a significant development:

-- Germany is one of Turkey’s staunchest allies in Europe;

-- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his ruling party were initially completely opposed to this proposed resolution;

-- While only 30,000 Armenians live in Germany, there are more than 3 million Turks in that country;

-- The Turkish government and the large Turkish community in Germany tried everything in their power to block the consideration of this resolution by the German Parliament;

-- All the political factions in the Bundestag, including the ruling party, ended up unanimously supporting the resolution on the Armenian Genocide;

-- The resolution states that the Germans acknowledge their own share of guilt in the Armenian Genocide and urge the Turks to face up to their dark past.

The Bundestag’s adoption of this resolution deals a fatal blow to the Turkish government’s desperate attempts to bury the issue of the Armenian Genocide. This must be particularly demoralizing for Turkish Prime Minister Receb Tayyip Erdogan who spared no time and effort trying to convince the world that there was no such thing as Armenian Genocide. In fact, as I have written repeatedly in this column, the more the Turks try to block the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the more they bring this issue up to the attention of world leaders and the international news media. For example, at the beginning of June, a Turkish group paid close to million dollars to send to Time magazine’s half a million European subscribers a 70 minute long DVD that denied and distorted the facts of the Armenian Genocide. The Turks thus made another half a million people aware of the Armenian Genocide.

Ironically, a big debt of gratitude for the success of the German resolution goes to Turkey’s own ambassador to Germany, Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik. He inadvertently helped the passage of the proposed bill by insulting the members of the German Parliament during his hysterical efforts to block its passage.

Some Armenians are troubled by the fact that the Germans took this initiative in order to accomplish their own agenda of preventing Turkey from joining the European Union. The concern is that the Germans appear to be exploiting the issue of the Armenian Genocide to further their own interests. In my opinion, it is salutary that German and Armenian objectives have coincided in this instance. Such a convergence would ensure that the Germans would not easily back away from the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as they would not want to abandon their own interests. After all, how can one expect the leaders of a country to side with the Armenians on any issue, if doing so would run counter to their own interests!

Some Armenians are also not pleased that the resolution refers to “the deportations and massacres” of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey, rather than a direct use of the term “genocide.” In the official explanation of the resolution, the text actually does use the word “genocide,” and describes in great detail the atrocities committed against the Armenians by the Young Turk regime. Furthermore, the resolution uses various other words that are the equivalents of genocide, such as “mass murder, extermination or annihilation, and destruction.” It states that “numerous independent historians, parliaments, and international organizations designate the expulsion and destruction of the Armenians as a genocide [Volkermord].” The resolution also estimates the number of those killed in the genocide as “more than a million,” according to “independent calculations.” It acknowledges that the German Reich, as the chief ally of the Ottoman Empire during WW1, was deeply involved in the mass murder of Armenians.

In the past few days, hundreds of articles have been published on the adoption of the Armenian resolution by the German Parliament. Once again, the Turkish leaders made matters worse for themselves by lashing out at the German government. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul described the resolution as “irresponsible, dismaying, and wounding.” Prime Minister Erdogan referred to it as “wrong and ugly.” He said that history would put the German leaders to shame. This undiplomatic name-calling further antagonized the Germans. A spokesman for the German government said he disagreed with Erdogan’s characterization, saying that the resolution was “balanced.” The Turkish and German exchange of words following the passage of the resolution generated more articles on this issue. Thanks to Turkish demonstrations and protests in both Ankara and Berlin, The international media continued to provide extensive coverage of the fall-out from the resolution on the Armenian Genocide.

As prominent Turkish commentator Mehmet Ali Birand wrote last Saturday in the Turkish Daily News: “The Armenian genocide allegations are being approved by a new parliament every passing day. The trap we are in is closing on us. One day we will see, we are left alone by ourselves. All Western parliaments will accept the genocide and will be applying pressure on their governments. The recent development in the German parliament is just a typical example of this. Let’s not see this as a stab in the back. Armenians have dominated the international arena to such an extent that the governments no longer feel the need to resist them.”

The noose is tightening around the neck of genocide deniers. It is only a matter of time before the other two countries, the United States and Great Britain, would abandon their feeble attempts to deny what their own archives prove beyond the shadow of a doubt. Then Turkey would have no place to run and no place to hide. The Turkish leaders should realize that without acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and without making appropriate amends to the survivors, Turkey has no chance of being admitted to the European Union. The lengthy text of the German Parliament’s resolution makes that point abundantly clear.

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