Berlin denies backtracking on Armenian Genocide resolution

The Armenian Genocide memorial in the country's capital, Yerevan. [z@doune/Flickr]

The German government has refuted media reports that it is seeking to distance itself from a recent resolution that saw the Armenian massacre recognised as genocide. EURACTIV Germany reports.

It was a long time coming, but the German Bundestag officially recognised the Armenian Genocide on 2 June in a landmark vote. However, the country’s chancellor and vice-chancellor, Angela Merkel and Sigmar Gabriel, were absent because of “prior engagements”. Both backed the motion publicly though.

German daily Der Spiegel had reported that the German government is trying to distance itself from the resolution in a political gesture towards Turkey. That was refuted earlier today by official government spokesperson Steffen Seibert, who hit out at “false reporting” that had claimed Berlin was looking to appease Ankara.

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More than a century since the German Empire carried out racial extermination in Namibia and in the wake of its recognition of the Armenian genocide, Germany is being urged to do the same for Namibia. But Berlin’s unwillingness to grant reparations has been criticised. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Since the resolution was passed by the country’s lower house, the Bundestag, German politicians have been banned from visiting German troops stationed at the Incirlik NATO base in southern Turkey.

The base is currently playing host to more than 200 Bundeswehr soldiers, six Tornado reconnaissance aircraft and a tanker aircraft, all involved in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State.

Der Spiegel had also claimed that Berlin was hoping that a deal brokered between the Foreign Office and the Chancellery would result in the ban being overturned.

Ankara to Berlin: You burned the Jews in ovens, and accuse Turkey of genocide

Turkey reacted with fury on Thursday (2 June) after the Bundestag labelled the World War I massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide, threatening further measures.

The newspaper also claimed that the process of distancing would involve Berlin reiterating that the resolution will have no legally binding effect on the government in the future. Seibert did indeed make this point during his statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu previously said that “if they take the necessary steps, then we will allow the visit”. However, anyone who is found to have interfered or distorted Turkish history will not be granted permission.

Turkey continues to refute that the events of a century ago were in fact genocidal and official Turkish historiography still states that Turks were also the victims of mass murder at the time. Germany’s June decision meant it joined Russia, France, Poland, Switzerland and the European Parliament in recognising it as genocide.

Earlier today, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had confirmed that “of course the Bundestag has every right and freedom to express itself on political issues. But the Bundestag says itself that not every resolution is legally binding.”

Several German politicians were disappointed by the rumours that the government would seek to move away from the issue and Green politician Tobias Lidner wondered aloud on twitter whether the federal government would distance itself from any other resolutions or laws the Bundestag had adopted.

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