Germany uncertain about 1915 ‘genocide,’ despite president’s remarks

Germany uncertain about 1915 ‘genocide,’ despite president’s remarks

Deniz Çiyan
Germany uncertain about 1915 ‘genocide,’ despite president’s remarks

AP Photo

Despite German President Joachim Gauck’s recent comments and Turkey’s official reaction, the German parliament’s stance on using the word “genocide” for the killings of Armenian citizens at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 remains uncertain, with Turkish academic Hüseyin Bağcı saying Germany’s thoughts on the issue were mixed.

Following press releases about the stance of the U.S., Russia and France, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a fourth press release last week after Gauck’s speech in Berlin on April 23, where he referred to the 1915 incidents as “genocide.”

The Bundestag has also decided to send a resolution containing the word “genocide” to a commission for further evaluation and thus, will re-discuss the matter in the forthcoming days before the parliament enters its summer break.

Germany, which itself has a history of genocide, had, until today, refrained from using the “g-word” for the 1915 incidents. Gauck and Bundestag speaker Norbert Lammert’s speeches were a first, as they also mentioned Germany’s role in the “genocide.”

On the other hand, German Chancellor Angela Merkel abstained from talking about the issue, while she was listening to the debates at the Bundestag.

Germany’s uncertain positioning brings to mind the possibility that it had waited to see the United States’ stance before commenting.

The head of the International Relations department at Middle East Technical University (METU), Prof. Bağcı, who specializes in German foreign policy, told the Daily News that Turkey took the United States’ and Germany’s decisions about the 1915 incidents into consideration and it was likely Germany waited for Obama’s wording to make their decision.

“Germany is going forward very cautiously. Germany’s thoughts on the issue are mixed. They most probably waited for the U.S.’ decision and when this decision came in negative, Germany turned it back,” said Bağcı, mentioning the unique relations between the two countries. Almost three million people of Turkish origin live in Germany and the two countries hold a trade volume of about $38 billion.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement on April 23 refrained from using the much-feared word but strengthened his definition of the incidents in comparison to former years.

On the other hand, stating that everything is possible in politics, Bağcı does not expect economic repercussions but rather “diplomatic consequences” if the Bundestag accepts a resolution containing the word “genocide,” which is to be seen in the upcoming days.