Armenia urges Germany to defy Turkish pressure

By Asbarez | Wednesday, 01 June 2016

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address a news conference after talks at the Chancellery in Berlin. (Photo: Reuters)

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address a news conference after talks at the Chancellery in Berlin. (Photo: Reuters)

BERLIN (RFE/RL)—President Serzh Sarkisian has urged Germany’s parliament to press ahead with a multi-partisan resolution recognizing the 1915 massacres of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide despite stern warnings from Ankara.

“I am sure that the politicians in the Bundestag see it the same way and will not allow themselves to be intimidated,” he said in an interview with the German mass-circulation daily “Bild” published on Wednesday.

Changing the wording of the draft resolution “just because that makes the head of state of another country angry” would not be fair or prudent long-term, he said in comments cited by Deutsche Welle radio.

The Bundestag is scheduled to debate and vote on the resolution on Thursday. The document drafted by the main parliamentary factions, including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), uses the word genocide in both the headline and the text.

“The fate of the Armenians is exemplary in the history of mass exterminations, ethnic cleansing, deportations and yes, genocide, which marked the 20th century in such a terrible way,” it reads.

It also notes that Germany, as an ally of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, “bears partial responsibility for the events.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan telephoned Merkel on Tuesday to warn that the passage of the proposed resolution would damage Germany’s “diplomatic, economic, trade, political, and military ties” with Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim echoed the warning on Wednesday, denouncing the Bundestag motion as “absurd.”

“History should be left to historians,” he told reporters.

Franz Josef Jung, a senior lawmaker from the ruling CDU, dismissed Ankara’s warnings, saying that German lawmakers do not intend to “put Turkey in the dock.”

“We are not asking the Turkish government to admit its guilt in the genocide, but for it to recognize its historical responsibility,” Jung noted.

The German resolution comes at a time when Merkel is relying on Turkey to implement a migrant deal with the European Union. The controversial deal is now hanging in the balance due to Turkish demands for visa-free travel to the bloc.

Sarkisian told “Bild” that Germany should not count on “a partner like Turkey” in solving Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis. “It is evident that a possible failure of the migrant agreement would have nothing to do with the passage of the resolution on the Armenian genocide,” he said.

Sarkisian said Erdogan should not be trusted by the European Union because he was instrumental in the collapse of the 2009 Turkish-Armenian agreements to normalize bilateral relations.

Erdogan’s government has made ratification of those agreements by the Turkish parliament conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan. Both the EU and the United States have repeatedly called for their unconditional implementation by Ankara.