Germany is preparing to discuss a bill that characterizes the 1915 events
as genocide in its Federal Assembly on June 2 and subsequently pass a
resolution on this issue.[1] According to information gathered from Germany,
German politicians are very keen on passing a resolution that characterizes the
1915 events as genocide and on placing the burden of genocide on Turkey. German
media is currently focusing heavily on running programs with anti-Turkey themes
and is constantly subjecting Turkey to various accusations. It is frequently
being mentioned that the underlying reason for German media’s and politicians’
approach to Turkey is their apparent reaction and anger towards the current
Turkish government.


Since there are about only 30,000 people of Armenian descent in Germany,
it is not possible to attribute the desire to pass such a resolution in the
Federal Assembly with the lobbying efforts of the Armenian diaspora. Instead,
as indicated above, this desire is linked to the reaction felt in Germany
towards Turkey.


Two points must be mentioned here; the ECHR’s Perinçek v. Switzerland case
verdict and the verdict of the Constitutional Council of France’s verdict
regarding the Gayssot Act. In both verdicts, a distinction has been made with
the legally confirmed Holocaust and the 1915 events. In both verdicts, it has
been indicated that the determination of whether or not any historical event
constitutes genocide falls under the competence of tribunals authorized by the
Genocide Convention of 1948. The ECHR delivered its verdict despite the intense
lobbying of the Armenian diaspora (who basically turned the Perinçek v.
Switzerland case into a life-or-death struggle). Moreover, considering the fact
that France virtually spearheads the Armenian genocide allegations, the verdict
delivered by the Constitutional Council of France becomes even more
substantial.


The verdicts of ECHR and the Constitutional Council of France point to the
fact that the characterization of historical events as genocide -in the absence
of any verdict by competent tribunals- is legally invalid and as such carry no
sanction power. Furthermore, as a country that has committed genocide in past,
Germany knows fully well what “genocide” is exactly and how it should be
determined. As such, the planned passing of a genocide resolution of the German
Federal Assembly concerning the 1915 events is, without a doubt, related to the
desire to put pressure on Turkey through an issue that is seen as a political leverage
against it or to the desire to further the Turcophobia that is present in
Germany and Europe as a whole.


Let us assume that Germany is taking the initiative regarding the genocide
resolution because of its reaction and anger towards the Turkish government.
However, it should be kept in mind that the current Turkish government is not
in any way related to events that took place 101 years ago. As such, what
Germany is actually doing with this initiative is to engage in a wholesale
attack against Turkey and the Turkish people. This initiative also constitutes
an attack against the 3 million people of Turkish descent living in Germany. In
this respect, Germany’s initiative is very offensive and repugnant, and will
furthermore backfire and fail to yield any useful results. Turkey will not
change its views on the 1915 events as a result of Germany’s initiative. The
only result that this initiative will yield will be the straining of bilateral
relations between Turkey-Germany.


The text of the planned resolution also lists an important objective; as
Germany, contributing to the rehabilitation of Turkish-Armenian relations and
becoming intermediary for such a rehabilitation. How is Germany expecting to
contribute to the rehabilitation of Turkish-Armenian relations by adopting a
resolution that is based on a one-sided Armenian narrative regarding the 1915
events (a narrative that has been shaped by propaganda left over from World War
I and by Turcophobia)? Considering the fact that Germany has currently adopted
a very biased position, how is Germany expecting to assume the role of an
intermediary? These are truly irrational and childish expectations.


Germany’s position regarding the 1915 events becomes even more bizarre
when one looks at two relevant examples: Germany does not recognize as genocide
the Holodomor that took place in 1932-33 (millions of people in Ukraine starved
to death due to the famine that resulted from Soviet Union’s policies) or the
systemic killings that was perpetrated in 1904-1908 by the German colonial
administration in Namibia (referred to as South-West Africa during that time
period).[2]


There are ongoing disputes over whether or not these two events constitute
genocide. However, why does Germany, for example, ignore the more recent event
like the Holodomor, and instead chooses to go back 101 years in the past to
highlight the 1915 events? Even more serious than this example, Germany is
still negotiating with Namibia on how to proceed regarding the 1904-1908 events
in Namibia, for which Germany is being accused of having committed genocide.[3]
It is also known that Germany is extremely uncomfortable with the issue of the
1904-1908 events and wishes to sweep this issue under the rug.[4] Why is
Germany proceeding onto the 1915 events and making calls upon Turkey when it
has not even finalized its own issue in which it is directly accused of
genocide? Germany’s choice of actions concerning such matters points to the
fact that the issue here is not about facing the past, but about political
calculations.


All these inconsistencies and political calculations have resulted in
reactions in the Turkish public. For example, having analyzed Germany’s
initiative concerning the 1915 events, experienced politician (R) Ambassador
Şükrü Elekdağ has stated that Germany has virtually turned the genocide
accusation against Turkey into a state policy.[5] According to Elekdağ, the
underlying reasons for Germany’s genocide accusation are as follows:


“1) Germany’s desire to ease its sense of burden by finding an accomplice
due to being crushed under the weight of its guilt [of the Holocaust]


2) The historical animosity felt by Protestant churches against Turks.


3) Forever blocking Turkey’s path towards EU membership.


4) Easing the assimilation of Turks in Germany by shattering their sense
of Turkish honor.”


According to Elekdağ’s analysis, Germany is approaching Turkey and Turks
in a manner that is far removed from what can be deemed as friendly. Then
again, there is nothing surprising about Elekdağ’s comments; after news
surfaced in 2014 that Germany was eavesdropping on Turkey, German officials
indicated that although Turkey is Germany’s ally, it is not considered to be in
the “friendly” country category.[6]


Another noteworthy response to the German initiative has come from the
researcher Şükrü Server Aya, who is known for his substantial amount of work
regarding the 1915 events. Şükrü Server Aya and his colleagues sent an open
letter (containing many archival documents) to the German Federal Assembly that
criticizes Germany’s position and calls upon Germany to adopt a more balanced
position.


When discussing the planned resolution in the Federal Assembly on 2 June,
German politicians need to ask themselves the following questions: Is Germany
willing to turn one of its important allies, with which it has close relations
in all aspects (historically, culturally, politically, and economically), into
an enemy by employing a highly offensive and repugnant method? If it is willing
to do this, what kind of positive results will such an initiative yield for
Germany?


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