02 June 2016

Well, This is a Fine F%$# You

The German Parliament just voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and Turkish President Erdogan's head is exploding:
The German Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a symbolic but fraught resolution on Thursday declaring the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide, escalating tensions with Turkey at a diplomatically delicate juncture.

The Turkish government angrily denounced the vote as “null and void,” and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called his ambassador in Germany back to Ankara for consultations.

“The way to close the dark pages of your own history is not by defaming the histories of other countries with irresponsible and baseless decisions,” Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, wrote on Twitter. In Ankara, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, “There is no shameful incident in our past that would make us bow our heads.”

Germany needs Turkey’s help in following through on a deal with the European Union to manage the refugee crisis attributed in large part to the Syrian civil war. At the same time, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been under pressure not to be seen as caving to pressure from Ankara to compromise on Western values, particularly after a recent dust-up over freedom of speech set off by a German comedian’s satire that outraged Mr. Erdogan.

………

Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its coalition partners supported the resolution, which was originally proposed for last year, to mark the centennial of the start of the killings. But it was repeatedly delayed, most recently in February, over concerns about angering Ankara.

As the vote approached, debate intensified in Germany, which is home to an estimated three million people of Turkish descent, many of whom have dual citizenship. About 2,000 Turks demonstrated last weekend in Berlin, rallying to say that Parliament is not a court and therefore should not pass judgment.

………

Her decision to do so, despite those objections, may have been influenced by an episode in March, when a German comic, Jan B√∂hmermann, lampooned Mr. Erdogan with a crude poem. Ms. Merkel initially criticized the verses, giving the impression — which she later said was a mistake — that she advocated restrictions on freedom of expression in Germany. Critics portrayed her as weak.

Cem Ozdemir, the co-chairman of the opposition Greens and a driving force behind the resolution, accused Ms. Merkel of paying little heed to Turkey for most of her decade in power, until circumstances forced her to engage with Mr. Erdogan.

On Thursday, Mr. Ozdemir said there was “never a favorable time to speak about something as dreadful as genocide.”

Mr. Ozdemir read century-old statements by officials of the German Empire showing they knew that up to 90 percent of Armenians had been killed. “Working through the Shoah is the basis of democracy in Germany,” Mr. Ozdemir said, referring to the Holocaust. “This genocide is also waiting to be worked through.”
There have been people fighting for this for decades.

Merkel is not one of these people. She felt a political need to push this through because she is seen as kowtowing to an increasingly megalomaniacal and despotic Turkish leader.

Still, this is a positive move, and hopefully we will see more of this.

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