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No Turkish delight over Armenian resolution

Aram Ekin Duran, Istanbul
June 2, 2016

Germany’s approval of a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide has generated harsh responses from Turkey. People on the street are concerned the vote will harm relations between the two countries.

Deutschland Debatte im Bundestag um Anerkennung des Völkermordes durch die Türkei an den Armeniern
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Bildfunk/P. Zinken

The German parliament's passing of a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide has prompted a bitter reaction in Turkey. The vote was the brunt of harsh criticism from Turkish politicians, particularly President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Turks are concerned that Germany risks damaging ties between the two countries.

Given that the recent formation of a new government, the struggle against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and a stagnant economy occupy the agenda, Germany's decision regarding the Armenian genocide is not a matter of principle concern for people in Turkey.

Despite that, it is possible to say that Turkish society generally shares Turkey's official position [of denial] regarding the Armenian genocide. Hundreds of thousands of Turkish citizens that have relatives in Germany are concerned that the decision will result in negative consequences for ties between the two countries.

Deutschland Bundestag Armenienresolution Abstimmung
No Turkish delight - The German Parliament voted nearly unanimously for the genocide resolutionImage: Getty Images/AFP/S. Gallup

Negative impact

According to retired civil servant Ayfer Öztürk, Germany's acceptance of the resolution will benefit neither Turks nor Armenians.

"This is a topic that should be handled by historians. But it is continually debated in parliaments. We want to be neighbors with the Armenians, like in earlier times. However when a country close to us like Germany makes this kind of decision, it will negatively affect our relations," said Öztürk, who also thinks that European countries frequently bring up the subject of the Armenian genocide in order to put pressure on Turkey.

Restaurant manager Kamil Dalga also thinks that Germany's stance is not one that will improve relations between Turkey and Armenia. Dalga said that Turkey must confront its own history on the topic of the Armenian genocide; however, the decisions that come out of the parliaments in other countries are preventing this from taking place: "When we were children, our elders would have a lot to say about those events. Everything should be debated and talked about. But in this case, it's as if Turkey is being chastised," Dalga said.

Deutschland Bundestag Armenienresolution
Armenians wave flags in front of the German BundestagImage: Reuters/H. Hanschke

'Germany needs to address the refugee problem'

On the other hand, there are those that believe that Germany's approval of the recognition will create difficulties in solving the refugee crisis. Elementary school teacher Sinan Arsel believes that the decision of the German parliament was not of a legal nature but of a political one. "I think that Germany has taken a hypocritical stance," Arsel said, adding that Germany bringing up the Armenian genocide amid its efforts to remove the refugee problem from within its borders is an "incomprehensible" stance.

"Bringing a historical tragedy that occurred 100 years ago to the agenda in this way is immoral. Even if it is in accordance with European values to debate this topic, doing it and deferring [the refugee crisis] is wrong. This is why it is impossible to respect Germany's decision. This will negatively effect the collaboration between Turkey and Germany on the refugee crisis," Arsel thinks.

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