BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
Despite ‘Sultan’ Erdogan’s insults and threats, the German Parliament went boldly forward last week and recognized the Armenian Genocide. In retaliation, Turkey immediately withdrew its ambassador from Berlin.
The historic Bundestag resolution, adopted with a near unanimous decision (1 vote against and 1 abstention), is titled: “In remembrance and commemoration of the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire 101 years ago.” According to ARD television, 74% of the German population agrees that genocide was committed against Armenians. Another revealing survey cited by “Der Spiegel” magazine found that 91% of the German public does not trust Erdogan!
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, fed up with Erdogan’s repeated blackmails, decided to put Turkey’s megalomaniac dictator in his place, while Pres. Obama has to muster the courage to do so! The German leadership had to fend off not only the Turkish regime’s attacks but also sharp criticism from many of the three million Turks living in Germany.
After the Parliament’s decision, Erdogan arrogantly declared: “We have nothing in our past to be ashamed of, but those countries that often accuse Turkey of ‘Armenian genocide’ have the blood of millions of innocent victims.” Turkey’s minister of justice Bekir Bozdag was just as brazen, as he told Germans: “First you burn the Jews in ovens, and then you come and accuse the Turkish people of genocide.” Erdogan and Bozdag must be reminded that Germany, unlike Turkey, long ago admitted the Nazi-era crimes, apologized for the Holocaust, and paid billions of dollars in compensation.
It remains to be seen if ‘big mouth’ Turkish leaders would dare to take punitive actions against Germany, besides the routine withdrawal of their ambassador, as they do each time another government acknowledges the Armenian Genocide. Should Erdogan decide to go beyond making empty threats, such steps would backfire on Turkey as Germany is its largest trading partner. Turkey’s economy is already in serious trouble after Russia banned the import of Turkish goods and discouraged its citizens from going to Turkey as tourists because of the downing of a Russian jet by the Turkish military near the Syrian border last year.
Turkish leaders have already damaged their country’s interests by making provocative and scandalous announcements which have helped to publicize worldwide the German Bundestag’s action on the Armenian Genocide. Thousands of newspapers, websites, TV and radio stations covered the German decision and the Turkish outbursts. It is noteworthy that the international media paid particular attention to the German Parliamentarians’ admission that their country, a military ally of Turkey during World War I, was complicit in the Armenian Genocide.
The New York Times and The Times of London, two of the most prestigious newspapers in the world, published powerful editorials on June 3 reaffirming the facts of the Armenian Genocide, supporting the German’s Parliament’s decision, and urging Turkey to confront its dark past.
In an editorial titled, “Yes, It’s Genocide,” The New York Times wrote: “… It was a genocide, the first of the 20th century…. The Armenians are fully justified in their quest for a historical reckoning…. President Obama, who as a candidate in 2008 pledged to recognize the events of 1915 as a genocide, has failed to do so…. The Germans, who have admirably confronted the terrible genocide in their own history, did the right thing in defying Mr. Erdogan’s threats.”
The London Times’ editorial, “Genocide Denial: The mass slaughter of Armenians needs to be acknowledged by Turkey,” was just as impactful: “The German resolution is right not only in its message but also in diplomacy. Turkish pique is regularly directed at allies who recognize the Armenian genocide. That response is worse than undignified and ahistorical: it is a denial of suffering on an unspeakable scale that poisons the politics of Europe to this day, and it needs to be challenged. The slaughter of Armenians was not, as Turkish apologists maintain, one of the unplanned but inescapable tragedies that happen in wartime. It was a specific campaign of deportation and mass killing by the Ottoman regime.… Modern Germany and its statesmen have expressed repeatedly their nation’s remorse for genocidal barbarism in the last century. It is long past time for Turkey to do the same.”
Having recognized the Armenian Genocide and acknowledged its own share of responsibility and complicity, Germany now has to make appropriate amends to Armenians, thus setting a venerable example for Turkey, not only in recognition, but also in restitution!