The German parliament (Bundestag) by almost a unanimous vote passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. It is significant to mention that, Germany is not only one of the largest trading partners and investors in Turkey, but also has the largest Turkish Diaspora as well.
The resolution acknowledges some German responsibility as an ally with Turkey during the first world war when the Armenian Genocide occurred in 1915. Here is in part what the resolution states “Bundestag recognizes the historical responsibility of Germany in the [Genocide of Armenians]”
The resolution also in part says “Bundestag calls on the federal government to continue further discussions about the responsibility of the German Reich in the horrible events”, and further calls on the federal government “to stimulate Turkey to continue contributing to the preservation of the Armenian monuments in Turkey and intensify that process”. A challenging task indeed.
It is also significant to mention that about 11 German members of parliament with Turkish ancestry voted for the resolution including the co-chair of the Green Party, Cem Ozdemir, who was not only the co-sponsor of the resolution but also the driving force behind the resolution.
Needless to say, the Turkish Government was furious and called its ambassador from Germany for consultation and made disparaging remarks about the leadership of the German government and the Parliamentarians. Reactions from some of the Turkish organizations both in Turkey and the Turkish diaspora were no different.
The Republic of Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora were delighted and praised the courage of the German government and the Parliamentarians.
This resolution is not just another resolution similar to the other 25 or so countries that passed none binding resolutions to recognize the Armenian Genocide since 1965. Rather, it is a resolution that could pave the way to “further discussions about the responsibility of the German Reich in the horrible events” between Germany and Armenia.
It is important to remember also that Germany has faced its past history and recognized the veracity of the Holocaust committed by Nazi Germany, which might also do so to the complicity of the “German Reich in the horrible events” (The Armenian Genocide), and thus might even help pave the way and make it easier for Turkey to do the same.
This is an opportune time that progressive elements of the Armenian community members in Germany to seize this opportunity and start a dialogue with the parliamentarians of Turkish ancestry who voted for the resolution and also with other German intellectuals and academics to further pursue this issue and lobby the government to take action and allocate the funds for further archival research “about the responsibility of the German Reich in this horrible events”.
Maybe Zoryan Institute of Canada, which has already done some archival research in Germany for the Armenian Genocide, is best qualified to help speed the process by cooperating with its academic counterparts in Germany as well.
Maybe the Armenian diaspora(s) also should take this opportunity to “kick start” dialogue between the German and even with progressive members of the Turkish diaspora as well. If it could be done in Germany it could be done also in other diaspora communities as well.
So far the nationalist elements of Armenian and Turkish ancestry had dominated the “agenda” with noisy and confrontational activities and thus prevented any meaningful dialogue between Armenians and Turks in the diaspora(s).
Armenian nationalists keep repeating the age-old “wisdom” that “Turks are bad and will never change” (Թուրքը գէշ է եւ երբէք չի փոխուիր), and re-act and vilify the Turks at every opportunity that present itself, while the Turkish nationalist does not seems to be able to face the truth about their past history and also re-act and vilify the Armenians at every opportunity they get especially during the Armenian Genocide remembrance days.
It is time to ignore these noisy nationalistic elements on both sides and start the process of dialogue between fellow citizens of Armenian and Turkish ancestry that live in the same country and share similar values. It could be done only with mutual understanding and respect towards each other, and with a positive mindset.
In Turkey itself, especially in Istanbul, the dialogue that started with the brave and martyred Hrant Dink is continuing and has grown in significant numbers between Turkish progressive intellectuals, human rights organizations, publishing houses, and some Armenian institutions like Hrant Dink Foundation and Agos Newspaper, etc.
Here I should emphasize that what I am talking about is not a negotiation or reconciliation process with any representation. Rather, dialogue between fair-minded individuals to start an open and public discussion about our mutual past history. First and foremost it is important to create a common ground for dialogue that might even help to “set the stage” for future negotiations by appropriate authorities.
This might sound optimistic maybe even naive, maybe it is, but confrontations, accusations, and shouting worn-out slogans from both sides of the “fence”, have run their course. It is time to search for new ways and means to create a positive common ground where dialogue could start to help the process of bringing closure to our greatest tragedy, the ՄԵԾ ԵՂԵՌՆ.
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian