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Recognition of Armenian Genocide by Germany

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6/16/2005 RFE/RL
By Armen Dulian in Prague

All factions of the German Bundestag today have approved a resolution regarding the Armenian Genocide.

The word `genocide' is used in the resolution only once. The German Bundestag states that `numerous independent historians, parliaments and international organizations qualified the deportation and extermination of Armenians as genocide.'

In an RFE/RL interview, analyst and journalist Ashot Manucharian, who has lived and worked in Germany for long years, called the document `a statement of cowards.'

`The Germans know well that a genocide was perpetrated, their archives are full of documents reaffirming that,' said Manucharian. Nevertheless, in his opinion, `it is better than nothing'.'

The document calls on the German government to press Turkey to investigate the killings and foster reconciliation.

In its motion, the German parliament said it was "convinced an honest historical review is needed and represents the most important basis for reconciliation."

The resolution also recommends establishing a commission composed of Turkish, Armenian and foreign historians to study the past events. It is said in the document that the Turkish authorities `oppress attempts to start a debate on this issue inside the country.'

The resolution states that `Germany bears a special responsibility in the matter of reconciling the Armenians and the Turks, because the German Reich once turned a blind eye to the actions of its allies in World War I.' The lawmakers called on the Foreign Ministry of Germany to open its archives related to that period.

Turkey protests German vote: Killing of Armenians

Dawn, Pakistan June 17 2005

BERLIN, June 16: Germany's parliament on Thursday condemned Turkey for what it called the mass killing of Armenians by Turks 90 years ago, sparking an angry protest from Ankara. In a vote shortly after Germany's government and opposition clashed over whether Turkey should join the European Union, all main parties in the Bundestag joined forces to deplore the killing.

The resolution stopped short of calling the killings genocide, a term Turkey rejects, but looks sure to test relations between Ankara and Berlin, until now a key supporter of Turkey's EU aspirations.

The resolution urged Turkey to set up an independent committee of Turkish, Armenian and international historians to document what happened and to hold a conference in Istanbul - postponed last month - to examine the issue.

Turkey denies the claims that 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in a systematic genocide between 1915 and 1923 as the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire collapsed.

It accepts that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed, but says even more Turks died in a partisan conflict in which many Armenians backed invading Russian troops.

Turkey is worried that it will come under mounting pressure to recognize the killings as 'genocide' after it starts EU entry talks in October.

"This resolution is regretful and we strongly condemn it," said the Turkish foreign ministry in a statement.

President Jacques Chirac of France, home to Europe's largest Armenian diaspora, has said failure by Turkey to recognize the genocide could harm the country's EU bid.

Several European nations, including France, Poland and Greece, have passed resolutions recognizing the killings as genocide.

Ankara's foreign ministry described the resolution as one-sided and 'provocative' and said it would hurt Turks' feelings. It said German lawmakers had been motivated by domestic politics and had ignored repeated warnings of the harm the resolution would do to ties.-

Germany To Tell Turkey `Take Responsibility' For Armenian Massacres

(dpa) - All parties in the German parliament have agreed key points of a resolution which will tell Turkey to "take historic responsibility" for the 1915 Armenian Genocide, a senior member of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats said Thursday.

Gernot Erler, the Social Democratic (SPD) deputy foreign affairs spokesman in the Bundestag, said the resolution due to win final approval in the coming months would have three "goals." First, Germany's parliament will recognize a limited German role in massacre of 1.2 million to 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War, said Erler in a statement.

Germany was Ottoman Turkey's main ally in the War and "partly through approval and through failure to take effective preventive measures there was a German co responsibility for this genocide."

"The (Bundestag) asks the Armenian people for their forgiveness," said Erler's statement.

Second, the Berlin parliament will call on Turkey "to halt its up until now overwhelming suppression, to take historic responsibility for the massacre of the Armenians by the Young Turk regime and to ask for forgiveness from the descendants of the victims."

Turkey's government has always insisted that there was no Armenian genocide and says a far smaller number of Armenians died during Ottoman deportations which it argues took place under war conditions and were due to an Armenian rebellion. Turkey's ambassador to Germany, Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik, has denounced the planned Bundestag resolution as containing "countless factual errors" and being written "in agreement with propaganda efforts of fanatic Armenians...."

"Its goal is to defame Turkish history... and poison ties between Turkey and the European Union," said the ambassador.

Finally, the German parliament's resolution will underline Berlin's efforts to help normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia. Germany, which has about 2.5 million resident Turks, has up until now been wary about addressing the Armenian genocide.

A member of the opposition Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU), Erwin Marschewski, said in a statement that the value system of the European Union (EU) insisted that countries "shine a spotlight on the dark pages of their history." "Recognition by Turkey to the Armenian genocide of 1915 and 1916 is important," said Marschewski.

Turkey is due to start membership negotiations with the EU in October but EU leaders say accession talks - if successful ` will take up to 15 years. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is a staunch backer of Turkish EU membership and will visit Ankara and Istanbul for talks with Turkish political and business leaders on May 3 and 4.

The draft resolution being debated in Germany's parliament does not use the word "genocide" but rather refers to the "expulsion and massacres" of Armenians under the Ottoman Turks in 1915 as part of ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the killings. "We purposely left out the ... term genocide," said Christoph Bergner, an opposition Christian Democrat, in a speech to parliament.

The declaration says between 1.2 and 1.5 million Christian Armenians died or were killed by the Moslem Turks during "planned" deportations during the First World War.

Armenians all over the world will on April 24 mark the 90th anniversary of the start of what most international historians describe as a genocide lasting from 1915 to 1923 which left up to 1.5 million people dead.

April 21, 2005