German-Armenian Forum Launched in Berlin

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By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

BERLIN — Ten years ago the Bundestag (Parliament) passed a resolution on the Armenian issue, but that focused on facilitating an Armenian-Turkish dialogue. The recent events in Berlin marking the centenary of the genocide constituted a breakthrough in the same direction, as reported in the Mirror-Spectator.

But what came into being on May 20 in Berlin is something new, directed towards expanding and deepening relations between Germany and Armenia on all levels. As noted in a press release, “The idea of a politically independent German-Armenian Forum has been around for a good twenty years.” Albert H. Weiler, who brought the initiative into being, is a Christian Democrat (CDU) member of parliament from East Thuringia. On being unanimously elected president of the Deutsch-Armenisches Forum, he remarked: “It makes me proud that we have succeeded in founding the Forum exactly in the year of the 100th commemoration of the Young Turks’ genocide against the Armenians.”

Well over 30 people took part, among them private individuals and other members of parliament, as well as scientific and cultural institutions, businesses and journalists. Special guests were Ashot Smbatyan, who had just been named new Armenian ambassador to Germany, and Artak Davtyan, member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia. As Chairman of the Standing Committee of RA on Science, Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs, he will be in a position to organize exchanges among these sectors. Also present were the honorary consul for Armenia from Hesse and the first (former) representative of Nagorno Karabagh in Berlin.

During the lengthy working session held in a meeting room of the Bundestag with a magnificent view of the city, they finalized the formulation of the new association’s statute and voted up a presidium. According to the press release, the members of this body are “individuals familiar with issues related to the southern Caucasus, and pursue the aim of promoting German-Armenian relations at various levels. The Forum should support Armenia in its democratic development, strengthen economic relations, support cultural and scientific exchange and build new bridges between the two societies.” As specified in the statute, the Forum will organize conferences, seminars, workshops and working groups, and will cooperate with existing organizations which pursue similar aims. In fact, members of the Armenian Community in Berlin as well as Dr. Raffi Kantian, Chairman of the German-Armenian Society, were also participants.

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As Weiler explained in his opening remarks, the background to the Forum was a visit he made to Armenia in 2014, which left a lasting impression on him. “Armenia is a country with a very ancient Christian tradition, which since its independence in 1991 has charted a democratic path, which deserves support,” he said. “True, Armenia lies in a difficult geographical position, but it has an enormous spiritual and economic development potential. We would like to exhaust and further develop these synergetic possibilities.”

Among the members of the presidium are Carsten Körber, also a member of the Bundestag, Meryam Davidian from the Armenian community in Berlin, Alla Serobyan from Weiler’s office, and, in an advisory capacity, Dr. Erik Vogt of the Senate Department for the Interior and Sports, Prof. Dr. Eckart Stratenschulte who is Director of the Europäische Akademie Berlin and Hans-Jochen Schmidt, former German Ambassador to Armenia (2009-2012). To celebrate the successful launch of the new Forum, participants enjoyed a buffet with Armenian specialties, including wine and cognac.

 

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From left, Meryem Davidian, Erik-Nils Voigt, Albert Weiler, Alla Serobyan, Hans-Jochen Schmidt and Eckhart Stratenschulte

 

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