YEREVAN (Armenpress)—At the initiative of Green Party of Germany, a discussion is set to be held in dedication to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. The results of the discussion will help draft a resolution regarding the Genocide. In preparations for the parliamentary discussion, Green Party co-chairman Cem Ozdemir, an ethnically Turkish German, is visiting Armenia. Armenpress reporters Syune Barseghyan and Araks Kasyan interviewed Ozdemir concerning the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The interview is below.
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ARMENPRESS: Mr. Ozdemir, within the framework of the visit, you have been in the Memorial of Armenian Genocide and paid a tribute to the victims of Armenian Genocide. What were your impressions when you returned from the Memorial of Armenian Genocide?
CEM OZDEMIR: There are so many sources that prove that we, the Germans, unfortunately have been involved in the Genocide as an ally of Ottoman Empire in that time. I think that Germany should obviously refer to the Armenian Genocide issue. As a friend of two countries, we should help to open the Armenian-Turkish border. As a friend of both countries, we should exert effort, so that the Armenian-Turkish relations become like the French-German or Polish-German relations. Surely, one of the preconditions to achieve it is that the each country must face the dark pages of its history, and this is also true for Turkey.
A.P.: As a German politician, who has Turkish roots, in your opinion, what steps should be taken by the government of Turkey in order to assume the full responsibility for the implementation of the Armenian Genocide?
C.O.: In our delegation, besides me there is another MP, who has Turkish roots too. Our visit shows that the Turks who live in Germany, enjoying the freedom of Germany, they see that Germany has chosen different way to deal with its history. It was not an easy process, but Germany hasn’t weakened from that. On the contrary, Germany’s strength is that it was able to resolve its dark pages of history. Noting all this, I would like that Turkey recognizes and admits, that as a result of the Armenian Genocide it has lost a lot of things.
When I was in Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, I was impressed by seeing the photos of intellectuals, who had been brought to the camps and killed there. Those people in that time was the intellectuals of Istanbul. Komitas was not only a composer and musician for Armenia, but also for the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, it was the loss of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, it was also the loss of the Ottoman Empire. As Hrant Dink had said: “If Armenian were still alive, twenty cities of Van would become Paris.” I think that this issue must be discussed in the books and in Turkish social public sphere and I am sure that it will be useful. Opening border with Armenia is another step forward. The opening borders stems from interests of two countries.
We have also discussed this issue with President Serzh Sargasyan. Unfortunately, there are so many missed opportunities. It stems also from interests of Turkey, due to the opened borders, the intervention of third countries will be weakened. If Turkey does not want to see Russian soldiers on the border, the opening border is one of the steps to achieve success and establish normal relations with Armenia. I hope that one day, if the border is opened, it will be called “Hrant Dink border”.
A.P.: I know that your party in the Bundestag raised the issue regarding the launch of commemoration ceremonies of Armenian Genocide. What events are planned in the German Parliament devoted to 100th anniversary of Armenian Genocide?
C.O.: On April 24, in Bundestag, we will have a debate on the Armenian Genocide, with participation of all parliamentary factions. I will speak on behalf of the Green Party, after which all the results will be transferred to the Foreign Relations Committee, and then a unified resolution will be drafted. Therefore German Bundestag, besides government, has an important message. This document will be a continuation of the resolution, which is adopted on 2005. We will talk frankly about the events, which took place in the end of 1915 and we will call “Genocide”, as international community calls.
A.P.: What is your attitude regarding that Turkish government has decided to mark the anniversary of Battle of Gallipoli on April 24.
C.O.: I think that it was another missed opportunity. If Turkey opens the border with Armenia, It would be a great step for it. I remember from my childhood years that the triumph of the battle of Canakkale has never celebrated on April 24. So, why is it unexpectedly celebrated on that day this year? This is very strange and causes inappropriate ambiguities.
There are some issues that need to highlight. The example of Torossian shows that the Armenians have fought on the Ottoman Empire’s side, which shows that the claims are true and perpetrators of Genocide needed to be persuaded that Armenians do not betray the Ottoman Empire. The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were good citizens, and some of them have served in the army of the Ottoman Empire and sacrificed their lives for the Ottoman Empire. I would like to see, that about those events the Turkish students knew from Turkish books.
A.P.: Summing up, what is your call taking into account the solution of problems in the 21st century?
C.O.: I think that the twenty-first century should not be a century of closed borders, a century of the solving problems by military way. One of the greatest achievements of the European Union is that we are negotiating. Those negotiations last on nights, but eventually we find common points. It is not always easy, but we find solutions. This is much better than war, which during last century led to the I and II world war. Today’s France and Germany have overcome it all, and I want to see the same here. I’m sure, that it is only the matter of time.