By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — As the croupier at the roulette table says, “les jeux sont fait.” The die is cast. In the wake of the German Bundestag’s resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the hysterical reaction from Erdogan and his co-thinkers has raised the stakes in a risky gamble with political counterparts in Europe, a game that Ankara, contrary to its delusions of grandeur, has no chance of winning.
Bundestag President Norbert Lammert (CDU) was not mincing words when he responded to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s intimidating threats against members of the parliament for its resolution on the Armenian Genocide. “That a democratically elected state president in the 21st century,” he said on June 9, “could link his criticism of democratically elected members of the German Bundestag with doubts as to their Turkish heritage, and designate their blood as impure, is something I would not have deemed possible.” He categorically rejected Erdogan’s insinuation that parliamentarians of Turkish background were “mouthpieces for terrorists” and underlined that “anyone who tries to exert pressure on single parliamentarians must know: He is attacking the entire parliament.” He added, “We will correspondingly react with all lawful possibilities that are available to us.” Lammert said the leaders of all parliamentary parties had asked him to speak out, “to voice our collective position once again, unequivocally.”
This time, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had been absent during the genocide vote, was on hand, and applauded demonstratively along with government and parliament members to signal her endorsement.
In tandem, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who is a member of Merkel’s coalition partner party the SPD, issued his rebuke with comparable forcefulness. In a letter addressed to Erdogan that same day, he repudiated the Turkish leader for having accused freely elected parliamentarians of terrorist sympathies for having expressed their views. “Such an act constitutes a complete breach of taboo, which I condemn in the strongest possible terms.” He went on: “As the president of a multi-national, multi-ethnic and multi-faith parliament, allow me to make the following point: the freedom of MPs to carry out their mandate as they see fit is a fundamental pillar of our European democracies.” The issue was not only institutional but also personal. Schulz wrote, “A string of the German Bundestag MPs you have personally attacked, but also Turkish parliamentarians affected by measures which you support, are among longstanding colleagues of mine; some of them are very close to me personally. I feel obliged to protect these colleagues wherever I can.”