Author: Fuad
HILALOV Baku


“Do you know what the most brazen challenge in history looks like?
It’s when after decades, a criminal whose arms are covered in blood up to the
elbows declares that he has been re-born, that he admits to doing it, pays
money to the victims’ relatives and calls it financial compensation and says
the case closed and then suddenly starts accusing others of committing the same
kinds of crimes.” This quote from a speech by one of the most famous and
influential political figures of the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre,
is the best reflection of the German Bundestag’s recent recognition of the
events of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire as “Armenian genocide”.


It would have seemed that the century-old myth of “genocide” had
finally started to crumble in the past year. Even in France, a country where
there is a very powerful Armenian diaspora and the Armenian issue had been used
for centuries to put pressure on Turkey, the “Armenian genocide” has
not been talked about that often. The centennial anniversary of those events
last year also failed to attract the global attention that Armenia needs so
much.


One should also recall the verdict that the European Court of Human Rights
(ECHR) passed on 15 October 2015 in the case of “Dogu Perincek v
Switzerland”. The court ruling says: “The essence and nature of the
events of the year 1915 remain debatable. There is no court ruling that would
characterize those events. This is the difference between the events of 1915
and the Jewish Holocaust which was committed during the Second World War. The
events of 1915 are a topic for debates and disputes among historians.”


The decision of the German parliament may have come as a surprise to some
people, and even the Turkish diaspora seemed to be calm, believing that the
Bundestag would not do it. However, if we recall political developments that
have taken place both within Turkey and in its relationship with the EU, we can
see that the decision of the German parliament had long been brewing as a
subject of blackmail and pressure on Ankara.


Why now? 


It became known on 16 May that the German parliament planned to recognize
the 1915 events as “Armenian genocide”. Things would have been okay
but just a few days before that it was announced in Turkey that the ruling
Justice and Development Party would soon hold an extraordinary congress and the
incumbent party chairman, Ahmet Davutoglu, would not run for this post. Effectively,
that constituted an announcement of the resignation of the Turkish prime
minister. Many influential American and European publications gave a fairly
negative reaction to this development. They bitterly said that the West lost
its faithful companion within the Turkish leadership in the shape of Davutoglu.
After all, Davutoglu was the one who initiated a thaw between Ankara and
Brussels.


Immediately after it became known that Davutogolu might resign, the EU
suspended work on a visa-free-travel agreement with Turkey. The news came from
Strasbourg on 11 May. According to the agreement, in exchange for Turkey
blocking the way for refugees from the Middle East to Europe, Brussels promised
Ankara 6bn euros for the needs of those refugees and the abolition of the visa
regime for Turkish citizens by summer 2016 – however, only provided that Turkey
fulfilled five EU conditions by the end of June (the full list of requirements
set for the Turkish leadership contains 72 points). Turkish President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan said the agreement needed to be revised because it contradicted
Turkish national interests. Also, Turkish media reports suggested that there
were major turning points in Turkish foreign policy with regard to Syria and
Russia. Already back then, analysts predicted that relations between Turkey and
the West could worsen soon. A response from the West did not take long to
arrive. However, the response came from where nobody expected it to.


You too, Brutus?


Germany is Turkey’s key trade partner. It tops the list of importers of
Turkish goods. In addition, according to the most conservative estimates,
Germany is home to just under 4m Turks, which is many more than Armenians in
Armenia. Therefore, one cannot say that the notorious activities of the
Armenian diaspora have a strong impact on German politicians. Natives of Turkey
are present in many areas of life in Germany, from the football team to the
Bundestag. Incidentally, paradoxical as it may seem, members of Turkish origin
were among those who actively promoted the bill on the recognition of the
“Armenian genocide” and voted for it. The actual bill was developed
by Cem Ozdemir, a Turk, who made absolutely opposite statements 15 years ago.


“Parliament is not a venue for discussion on historical issues. I
would not recommend that my colleagues in the German Bundestag follow France’s
example. The events that took place in 1915 and before that in 1895 should not
be discussed either in Washington or Paris” – this is a quote from an
article by Ozdemir, published in the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
on 5 April 2001. Back then, Ozdemir called on the German parliament to refrain
from making a “big mistake” such as recognition of “Armenian
genocide”.


However, here is a recent statement he made: “I believe that Ankara
will be very angry about the adoption of the bill (to recognize the
“genocide”). But the German parliament will not follow the Turkish
regime’s lead. After our parliament adopts this law, it will be very hard for
Turkey to deny the ‘genocide’.”


But what is it that made Mr Ozdemir change his position 180 degrees within
such a short period in history? Ozdemir explained that the reason for his political
acrobatics was that the Zurich protocols signed in 2007 never produced the
desired effect and Turkey never opened its borders with Armenia.


Does this mean that the behaviour of the Turkish leadership forced Ozdemir
to “believe” that there was “genocide” 101 years ago?!
Would no “historical evaluations” of those events have come if Turkey
had gone for ungrounded concessions verging on betrayal of national interests?!


“There is a second bottom in this matter. Just one person voted
against and one abstained. Is this issue that important to the Germans? Last
year marked 100 years since the 1915 events. Why did they not make that
decision back then? It makes one wonder. An instruction to this effect might
have come from above. Now I wonder – how, following these developments, will
German leaders look me and our prime minister in the eye?” Turkish
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.


A very interesting statement in this regard came from Oliver Wittke, an MP
from the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, who was the only one to
abstain: “The participation in the vote of only 400 deputies out of 630,
that is to say, the absence of the opinion of one-third, makes one wonder about
many things.”


“The German parliament approved the resolution recognizing the crimes
against Armenians in 1915 as genocide because Turkey does not want to cooperate
with its partners on a number of issues, making scandals instead.” This is
an opinion that was expressed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In
this way, the Russian foreign minister indirectly confirmed that there were
political motives behind the bill that the Bundestag passed recently.


Who are the judges?


It is becoming obvious that the German parliament simply fulfilled a
political order. Why? What for? Before answering these questions, one should
once again have a look at to what extent this move was justified and what moral
rights those who passed it had to do so.


The above-mentioned court ruling says: “The events of 1915 are
different from the Holocaust, and to recognize a genocide, either a domestic or
international court needs to recognize those actions as genocide.” Why, in
this case, have either Armenians of the world, or their Western backers, who
are so concerned about “restoration of historical justice”, never
appealed to international courts? Maybe because a court would start a probe and
solicit proof, documents and evidence, and the myth about “genocide”
may eventually vanish?! Politicians pass a verdict but do not say a word about
sources or facts they refer to. How democratic is it for European countries not
to acknowledge the right of the “defendant” to defence? Furthermore,
Germany, like most countries, signed the Convention on the Prevention of
Genocide, which clearly states that only the International Court in The Hague
has a right to recognize any acts as genocide.


There is one more important point: What country comes to our mind when we
talk about mass extermination of people? No, we will not talk about the
Holocaust. Germany officially acknowledged it, apologized and pays
compensations. A lot has been said and written about this. We will not say that
during the Second World War (and actually before it, too) all non-Germans in
Germany were derogatorily referred to as “Untermensch” (subhuman) and
subjected to mass extermination. We will not talk about the extermination of
hundreds of thousands of gypsies in Germany and lands it occupied, the
extermination of 10 per cent of Poles, 3m Soviet prisoners of war in
concentration camps, the “Generalplan Ost” that envisaged the forced
eviction of up to 75-85 per cent of population from Poland and occupied parts
of the Soviet Union and the settlement of those hapless people in Western
Siberia, the North Caucasus and South America; or the extermination of all mentally
ill and disabled people.


Suffice it to remember the genocide of the Herero and Nama tribes, which
were exterminated in 1904-07 by colonial troops of imperial Germany. About
65,000 (up to 80 per cent) people from the Herero (Bantu) tribe and 10,000 (50
per cent) people from the Nama (Hottentot) tribe were killed in German
South-West Africa in what is now Namibia during a violent suppression of a
popular uprising.


Incidentally, Germany is still reluctant to hear about compensation to
descendants of African tribes. It cites a very interesting argument. Berlin
believes that the events that took place before 1951, the year the Convention
on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide entered into force,
cannot be considered genocide. By what logic, in this case, did German MPs
describe the events of 1915 as genocide?!


Moreover, analysis of the events of 1915 surely brings up one more fact
that members of the Bundestag are unlikely to be happy to hear about. The thing
is that the decision to deport Armenians from the Ottoman Empire in 1915, which
the Bundestag now regards as “Armenian genocide”, was actually taken
under pressure from Germany. One should know that the deportation of Armenians
from the Ottoman Empire in 1915 was above all a military operation. All
military operations were led by the General Staff of the Turkish Army. The post
of Chief of Staff of the Turkish High Command from November 1914 to 1917 was
held by Gen Friedrich Bronsart von Schellendorf – a German subject. The general
himself admitted to his direct involvement in and leading the operation in the
newspaper Deutsche Allegemeine Zeitung dated 24 July 1921. Here is what he
wrote: “The Turkish Muslim population fled their lands as a result of the
advancement of Armenian gangs. We were not able to stop it all. Therefore, it
was decided to deport the Armenians.” The advancement of Russian troops
with the help of Armenian rebels on the ground jeopardized a vital German
project – the Baghdad railway. In other words, before accusing the Young Turks
of committing the deportation, which the German parliamentarians have described
as “genocide”, it makes sense to remember that the Young Turk
government, especially its military wing, was under the control of imperial
Germany.


Humiliation for Armenians


The Armenian issue has never been purely a dispute between Turks and
Armenians. This issue has always been the subject of debates between the Turks
and the imperialists. Even leaders of the Armenian clergy concede that
countries that have recognized the “genocide” are not worried about
the fate of the Armenian people at all.


The locum tenens for the Constantinople patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic
Church, Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, sent a letter to President Erdogan condemning
the Bundestag resolution on the “genocide” of Armenians. According to
the Armenian newspaper Agos, Archbishop Aram Ateshyan said that by passing the
resolution, “the imperialist powers took advantage of the problem of the
Armenian people”. “Your wording ‘the events that took place in the
tragic era of the First World War’ with regard to an almost complete
extermination of a people by the state of which they were citizens is an insult
to the memory of those victims and humiliation of the survivors,” his
letter says.


So, the Bundestag’s decision once again demonstrated that the Armenian
issue is just a tool in the West’s policy towards Turkey. By means of putting
pressure on Ankara, the West pursues several goals at once.


First, to make [Turkey] compensate for the “tragedy and pain” of
the Armenian people. This means billions of dollars in compensation to the
strong Armenian lobby. Of even greater importance for the Western powers is
opening of Turkey’s borders with Armenia and all kinds of support for that
country [Armenia]. In this way, through a NATO member country, Armenia would
fall into the arms of the West, and in addition to Georgia and Ukraine, one
more russophobic country would appear in the post-Soviet area. Given the
historical mentality of Armenian elites, the prospect of such a treacherous act
with regard to their saviour, that is to say, Russia, is quite likely.


Later on, the famous 72 criteria for Turkey’s admission into the EU come
into play. Even though these criteria are presented as “strengthening of
democratic institutions and civil society, and respect for human rights”
and other fashionable “liberal values”, they actually seek a
significant reduction in Turkey’s independence and sovereignty – transfer of
former church lands to the Armenian Church, then bringing the issue of the
so-called “Western Armenia” to the foreground, then “protection
of national and ethnic rights of minorities”, i.e. “full restoration
of rights” of the Constantinople Orthodox diocese, creation of a “Kurdish
autonomy”, etc.


The implementation of the “Armenian genocide recognition” project
by European countries and pressure exerted on Turkey regarding this issue also
aim to unleash psycho-historical war. It is not for nothing that almost all
resolutions on the so-called “genocide” indicate the dates 1915 to
1923, i.e. before the establishment of the present-day Republic of Turkey. This
is an attempt at dealing a blow to the Turkish people on a psychological level
and to blacken the founders of present-day Turkey, describing them as villains
and criminals against humanity. If the so-called “Armenian genocide”
continued during the establishment of present-day Turkey as well, then it will
be possible to describe this country as a state that was created as a result of
genocide, and tomorrow it will even be possible to question the legitimacy of
the Republic of Turkey.


FACTS FROM MODERN HISTORY


Over the past 10 years, the Turkish authorities have initiated numerous
gestures of goodwill towards Armenia – football diplomacy, condolences from
Ankara to Armenians over the events of 1915, the signing of the Zurich
agreements towards the opening of borders with Armenia, and a visit by a former
foreign minister to Yerevan where he was met by protesters who set fire to
Turkish flags. However, the Armenian diaspora and the Armenian government
rejected the hand that was extended to them


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