The lower house of the German Parliament (Bundestag) during a meeting on 2 June 2016
The lower house of the German Parliament (Bundestag) on Thursday, June 2, still adopted a resolution in which the mass deaths of Armenians during the First world war was called a genocide. Thus, Germany became the 29th country in the world to recognize an international crime against the Armenians.
What the resolution says?
The draft resolution was prepared in April 2015, the 100th anniversary of the start of the genocide. It was submitted to the Parliament jointly by four of the five parliamentary factions of the Bundestag: the ruling coalition of conservatives — the Christian democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party, the Christian social Union (CSU), Social democratic party (SPD) and the Green party. An active supporter of adoption of the resolution became one of the leaders of the “Green” CEM Ozdemir, of Turkish nationality.
Fifth faction — the deputies from the party “Left” — proposed an alternative resolution that differs much more stringent requirements. For example, the document demanded that the government of Germany to recognize the joint responsibility of the German Empire in the genocide, to enter data about it into the history books and to urge Ankara to promote a critical understanding of its past.
In the end, the final version of a parliamentary majority (it takes exactly 90% of the seats in the Bundestag) were not significantly softer than the project, “Left”: it is recorded that as the closest ally of the Ottoman Empire Germany in those years knew about the mass killings and is savinovna in the genocide.
Berlin, accept their responsibility, is going to persuade Turkey and Armenia to tackle the past and cooperation. Germany must also support the scientific and cultural projects related to the subject of genocide: in particular, the Bundestag urged the German government “to explain” the role of the German Empire in the events of a century ago. At the same time, the resolution calls for conciliation to distinguish between “the guilt of the perpetrators and the responsibility of living”.
Why the document was adopted now?
For a long time, German politicians tried to avoid the word “genocide”, including because of the influential Turkish Diaspora in the country. According to the census 2011 in Germany was inhabited by at least 2.7 million people of Turkish origin. For 2012, the Federal statistical office Destatis in Germany consisted of about 3 million ethnic Turks, is about 4% of the population — the largest ethnic minority (later data not published).
For Turkey is Germany’s leading trade partner. Thus, the volume of trade between the two countries in 2015 reached €36,8 billion import of goods in Germany increased in 2014 by 16% to €22.4 billion, and exports by 8.4% to €14.4 billion in addition, said the German foreign Ministry, the total volume of investments of Germans in the Turkish projects made with 1980 €12 billion, making Germany the largest investor of Turkey.
The first attempt to define the crime against the Armenians was undertaken in June 2005, then in the Bundestag resolution mentioned only about the “persecution and murder”. The resolution on the genocide appeared ten years later — April 24, 2015, at the same time the President of Germany, Joachim gauck delivered a speech, in which one of the first German politicians used the word “genocide” in relation to the persecution of the Armenians.
But further discussion, the resolution was not adopted: a few months in Europe began the migration crisis, and Merkel’s government considered Turkey as a key partner in curbing the wave of refugees. By October behind the resolution, the MPs agreed on taking it, but it was decided that the draft will be submitted to the Bundestag only from the party “Green” and with the patch: the murder of Armenians was called only “an example of massive destruction, ethnic cleansing and even genocide.”
At the end of February 2016 to “Green” all the same introduced a resolution with the word “genocide”. It happened two weeks before the deal between the EU and Turkey: the results of the consultations, the Brussels and Ankara have agreed on the expulsion of illegal migrants to the East, for which Turkey will receive €6 billion (for the placement of migrants) and the acceleration of the integration process with the EU. The Association agreement between the EU and Turkey was signed in 1963, an application for EU membership, Ankara filed in 1987, accession talks are conducted from 2005 — from time to time they are suspended.
In early may, the European Parliament decided to suspend work on the introduction of visa-free regime with Turkey that has irritated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who promised “to send to Europe for refugees”. These statements and the desire of Erdogan to sue German comedian for satire led to another cooling of Turkish-European relations. In the end, may 31, Merkel supported the desire of party members to vote for the adoption of the resolution on the Armenian genocide.
When and who recognized the Armenian genocide?
To date, the Armenian genocide recognized 29 States (including Germany), including Russia, France, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria.
The first country to recognize the crime, in April 1965 became Uruguay in the South American country is home to one of the oldest of the Diaspora Armenians, who arrived there immediately after the genocide. Following the recognition took place only in 1975 — this step was taken by the government of Cyprus. The recognition could be influenced by the fact that a year earlier, in 1974, in the Northern part of the island was invaded by Turkish troops — this led to the partition of the country and the formation of the Turkish state of Northern Cyprus.
For 20 years after that no one had made such statements, only in 1995 the state Duma of Russia condemned organizers of the extermination of the Armenian people and designated April 24 as Day of remembrance of the victims of the Armenian genocide. After that, several countries announced the recognition of the Armenian genocide: Canada — in 1996, France in 1998, Greece in 1999, Holland in 2004. In April 2015, when several countries held events dedicated to the centenary of the tragedy, the genocide recognized from seven countries.
In countries such as Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia and Switzerland, the denial of the Armenian genocide a criminal offence and is punishable with imprisonment from three to five years, as well as large monetary fine. However, in October 2015, the criminalization of the denial of the Armenian genocide was called into question: the European Council on human rights (ECHR) came to the conclusion that denial is permissible as freedom of speech, which is protected under article 10 of the European Convention on human rights.
Directly deny the genocide, only two States — Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Turkish authorities extremely painfully react to any public recognition of the genocide by the authorities of other States. In particular, in April 2015, when the President of Russia Vladimir Putin to the participants of the event “World without genocide” a telegram of greetings and mentioned the Armenian genocide, the Turkish President criticized the move. According to him, Russia must first answer for their actions in Ukraine and Crimea, before you call the events of 1915 as genocide.” It all happened in six months to a sharp cooling of relations between Moscow and Ankara in November 2015 against Turkey have imposed economic sanctions limited the import of goods, prohibited charters, etc.
What could be the consequences of the resolution?
As reported by the broadcaster DW and AP, the resolution does not bring about any legal consequences — only symbolic significance. Mention of any material compensation in resolution, but the German government, according to the text, it is necessary to demand that Ankara’s recognition “of the then persecution and massacre” as the Foundation of reconciliation with Armenia.
After adoption by the Bundestag resolution on the Armenian genocide recognition Turkey in protest of Germany withdrew its Ambassador. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the decision of the machinations of the “racist Armenian lobby”. Ambassador Hüseyin awnin of karslyoglu flew from Berlin to Ankara in the afternoon on 2 June. The Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus called the resolution of the German Parliament “a historic mistake”.
“Turkey has always been against recognition of the Armenian genocide, regardless of what the country was recognized. I think, the Bundestag adopted the decision on purpose to aggravate the situation and finally to abandon the position of rapprochement with Turkey in terms of EU”, — said in an interview with RBC Director of the Center for the study of the Middle East and Central Asia semen Bagdasarov.
According to Bagdasarov, Deputy Director of the Institute of Europe RAS Vladislav Belov, the complication of relations between the two countries could worsen the situation with the immigration crisis, which greatly depends on the signed in March agreement between Turkey and the EU on refugees. According to the document, all illegal arrivals by sea to the shores of Greece, the refugees should be sent back to Turkey, while for each migrant who had returned from Greece to Turkey, the EU will take a single Syrian refugee from Turkish territory. Bagdasarov believes that Erdogan will do everything possible to increase the flow of refugees in the EU, particularly in Germany. In late may, the European Commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos has said that from Turkey to Europe want to get to 3 million refugees.
“The decision of the Bundestag of late: Turkey’s relations with Germany and with the European Union, and so rather tense, — said Belov. — In March the agreement objectively stabilized the situation with the migrants and helped the EU to approach the creation of a new Agency for border security on the basis of Frontex (migration service of the EU) and prepare for a new wave of crisis”. The expert believes that the decision the Germans could become the straw that breaks the camel’s patience of Erdogan and his circle: apparently, after June 30, the Turkey will come out of the agreement, the border control will be weakened — in fact, Ankara will open the gates to refugees in Europe.
Fears Belov and implications for domestic policy of Germany: “In Germany there live some millions of Turks. Will probably be street protests, in parallel, will start provocations of ultra-right”. Likely, additional support will be provided ultra-conservative movement “Alternative for Germany” (AfD). According to a Forsa survey from June 1, the AfD can claim at least 10% of the vote, which will allow her to first go to the Bundestag.