By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — No one engaged in efforts to have the Armenian Genocide officially recognized — at whatever level and in whatever venue — can suffer under the illusion that it is simply a matter of acknowledging historical facts as truth. It has been, and remains a political football, which is tossed, carried or kicked according to the game plans drafted by the coaches of the opposing teams. Or, as in the case of Germany, it is punted. Instead of following through on the courageous initiatives taken by President Joachim Gauck and the Bundestag (Parliament) last April, to finally formulate and pass a unified resolution acknowledging the Genocide, the political leadership has preferred to put the entire issue on hold.
This in itself is highly regrettable and will raise cries of protest throughout the Diaspora. But there is more at stake than the Armenian issue, narrowly defined. The reversal on this resolution occurs in the context of the most severe refugee crisis since World War II, a crisis generated by the continuing war in Syria and Iraq, in which the barbaric ISIS hordes threaten to wipe out an entire civilization. The German decision made on the genocide question, being tactical, can be corrected with time. But compromises made in assessing the dynamic behind the ISIS onslaught, especially regarding the roles played by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, carry strategic implications.
Genocide Resolution Sacrificed on the Altar of Realpolitik
Der Spiegel, a flagship weekly known for its scoops and scandals, issued a release on October 16, titled “The Bundestag delays Armenian resolution,” which read: “The controversial Bundestag resolution on the Armenian genocide will be put on hold until further notice.” It reported that the governing coalition parties had “quietly agreed to delay the second and third readings of the resolution, which designates the massacres by the Young Turk government 100 years ago as genocide, for as long as possible.” Though the foreign policy spokesmen of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) “do not want to issue statements on it,” Spiegel writes that according to its information, “what lies behind this is the consideration that one does not want to provoke Ankara unnecessarily at the moment if at the same time one expects help in the solution of the refugee crisis.” It recalls that back in April, when the issue arose, Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier had declined to speak of genocide, “out of consideration for Ankara.”