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Opinion: Germany as driving force for other European countries to recognize Armenian Genocide

Today, on June 2, Bundestag, Germany’s National Parliament, nearly unanimously passed a resolution affirming the crimes committed against Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as genocide.

The resolution titled “Remembrance and commemoration of the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in the years 1915 and 1916” was passed by overwhelming majority of votes and carried the protested word throughout the text. Turkish lobby’s months-long efforts to press the parliamentarians and the leadership of Germany resulted in one abstention and one vote against. 

Among others, the text of the resolution says that annihilation of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the WWI was a disaster that had terrible aftermaths in the millennial history of the Armenian people. The deportation and massacres claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million of Armenians. Many independent historians, parliamentarians, and international organizations have affirmed that the annihilation and expulsion of Armenians was genocide, the resolution says. 

Turkey responded to the Bundestag’s resolution immediately.  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his discontent warning that Turkey would take the next step after looking into the text of the resolution. The Turkish leader said the German vote would seriously affect the ties of Germany and Turkey and confirmed that the ambassador has been recalled for consultations.  Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Numan Kurtulmuş said: “Turkey will give the necessary response to Germany. We consider this decision null and void. This is not a decision that should be made by politicians or parliaments; it is a decision that has to be made by historians.” On Twitter Kurtulmuş called the decision a “historic mistake”.

While Turkey is thinking over how to do a bad turn to Germany, Armenia is celebrating, as Germany’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey is of double importance.  First, Germany as a Big Power may become a driving force for many other European countries to recognize the fact of Genocide. Artyusha Shahbazyan, former parliamentarian of Armenia, a representative of ARF Dashnaktsutyun (ARFD) Party, made such a statement talking to EADaily's correspondent.  ARFD is known to be one of the most active lobbyists for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

“Germany is one of the key countries in Europe, and this resolution will facilitate the process of recognition of the Armenian Genocide by other countries too,” he said.

According to Shahbazyan, with such step Germany has showed that it is ready to toughen its stance. The politician recalled that Germany and particularly Chancellor Angela Merkel have been disregarding Ankara’s policy and ties with the Islamic radicals. Despite the big Turkish Diaspora and good, mutually advantageous economic relations with Turkey, Germany has recognized the Genocide of Armenians.

 “The given resolution has become a stick for Turkey. Its further effect will become clear later,” Shahbazyan said. However, he went on, Germany has done something unprecedented by admitting its part of guilt in that crime against humanity. 

It is noteworthy that in an unofficial translation, the resolution text says, “The Bundestag regrets the inglorious role of the German Reich, which as military ally of the Ottoman Empire did nothing to stop these crimes against humanity despite receiving clear information from German missionaries and diplomats about the organized deportation and annihilation of Armenians. This commemoration by the German Bundestag also serves as an expression of particular respect for the oldest Christian nation on earth.”

Head of Modus Vivendi Analytical Center Ara Papyan says this recognition is different, as the country that was the ally of the Ottoman Empire has not taken a neutral or denying stance. It has admitted its part of guilt.

“There is something that is even more important to Armenia – it is time to shift to the next stage in the process of the international recognition of the genocide i.e. it is high time to demand reparations,” Papyan said.

As for Turkey’s response to such important political decision of Germany, Papyan said Turkey is not likely to spoil its relations with Germany backed with numerous economic contracts and projects that are necessary to it, first.  Now, when Turkey lacks economic relations with Russia, it will hardly go beyond demonstrative demarche and recalling of the ambassador from Berlin.   “In a couple of months, the ambassador will silently return to Germany,” he said.

In response to the question if Germany’s decision will have any impact on the new wave of developments in the Karabakh conflict where Turkey has always managed Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s ambitions, Papyan said he sees no direct links, but certain escalation is quite possible in the near future.

 “I would not like to link this decision with possible escalation in Karabakh, but we have witnessed repeatedly that Azerbaijan leads the situation to war when it wants war and keeps the situation in Karabakh peaceful when it wants peace. Now, Azerbaijan needs peace and I suppose that this situation will last until June 21,” the Armenian political analyst said.

It has become known today that Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yildirim will travel to Baku on June 3 where among energy issues the situation in the South Caucasus will be discussed.  One can suppose that representatives of the top leadership of Turkey and Azerbaijan will address Bundestag’s resolution either.

By Lia Khojoyan 

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