By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — “Wisdom is the art of considering things from all sides.” The saying is by Nerses Shnorhali and it was printed in Armenian and in German on the invitation issued by the Armenian Embassy in Berlin to a ceremony on March 23. And it fit the occasion: we were invited to attend an event honoring two outstanding individuals who might be considered practitioners of the “art” in the political and cultural realm.
Ambassador Ashot Smbatyan presided over the ceremony, during which he presented the State Award of the Armenian Republic. The order of merit, which is a high honor, was conferred on Cem Özdemir, Green Party member of the Bundestag (Parliament), and Dr. Raffi Kantian, chairman of the Deutsch-Armenische Gesellschaft (German-Armenian Society). Özdemir was selected “for his extraordinary services in the international recognition of the Genocide against the Armenians,” and Kantian, for his “special services in deepening German-Armenian relations.”
Marc Sinan read the laudatio for Cem Özdemir. Sinan, a composer and guitarist, is a co-founder, with Dresden Symphony conductor Markus Rindt, of the German-Turkish-Armenian Friendship Society. The choice of speaker was most appropriate, for Sinan shares with Özdemir a Turkish background, although, as he developed in his remarks, their biographies also display significant differences.
Sinan began by saying he felt it was “an even greater honor for me … to present such a valuable prize, like the Armenian State Award, than it is for you, dear Cem Özdemir, to receive it.” The German political figure has earned his admiration, he said, because his biography “is proof that one can make it here in Germany, against all odds. Against everyday racism. Against disparagement.”