GERMANY DEFIES TURKEY, CALLS ARMENIAN MASSACRE ‘GENOCIDE’ (+VIDEO)
Christian Science Monitor-
April 21 2015
Germany abruptly shifted its policy Monday from a steadfast refusal
to use the term “genocide” to describe the massacre of up to 1.5
million Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces 100 years ago.
By Erik Kirschbaum, Reuters April 20, 2015
Berlin — The German government backed away on Monday from a steadfast
refusal to use the term “genocide” to describe the massacre of up to
1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces 100 years ago after
rebellious members of parliament forced its hand.
In a major reversal in Turkey’s top trading partner in the European
Union and home to millions of Turks, Germany joins other nations and
institutions including France, the European parliament and Pope Francis
in using the term condemned by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said the
government would support a resolution in parliament on Friday declaring
it an example of genocide.
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Germany had long resisted using the term “genocide” even though
France and other nations have. But the coalition government came under
pressure from parliamentary deputies in their own ranks planning to
use the word in a resolution.
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“The government backs the draft resolution…in which the fate of the
Armenians during World War One serves as an example of the history of
mass murders, ethnic cleansings, expulsions and, yes, the genocides
during the 20th century,” Seibert said.
Turkey denies that the killings, at a time when Turkish troops were
fighting Russian forces, constituted genocide. It says there was no
organized campaign to wipe out Armenians and no evidence of any such
orders from the Ottoman authorities.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had rejected using the word
genocide in an ARD TV interview on Sunday, denying any suggestion it
was being avoided to avoid upsetting Turkey.
“Responsibility can’t be reduced to a single term,” he said.
Members of parliament in the conservative Christian Democrats and
their Social Democrat (SPD) allies forced the change.
Analysts said that the reluctance until now from Germany, a country
that works hard to come to terms with the Holocaust it was responsible
for, was due to fears of upsetting Turkey and the 3.5 million Germans
of Turkish origin or Turkish nationals living in Germany.
The German government also did not want to use the word due to
concerns the Herero massacres committed in 1904 and 1905 by German
troops in what is now Namibia could also be called genocide —
leading to reparation demands.
“It’s a striking contradiction by the German government that Germany
is denying the genocide of Armenians,” said Ayata Bilgin, a political
scientist at Berlin’s Free University.
“Research has shown that external pressure on countries can have a
considerable influence and Germany could play a very important role
in this discussion on Turkey.” (Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; editing
by Ralph Boulton)