By Edmond Y. Azadian
Two nations have been the perpetrators of the two largest genocides in the 20th century — Turkey and Germany. There is much affinity between these two nations. In annihilating their minorities, they only outdid one other. During World War I these two nations were allies and recent historical research has unearthed German culpability in directing and monitoring the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire.
During World War II, Turkey was secretly assisting the German war effort, until the Allies emerged as victors. Thus in a last-ditch effort, Turkey’s leaders were able to save the country from disintegration by declaring a nominal war against the crumbling Reich.
Today, a new alliance is being forged between these two old allies. Germany is a NATO member. It is also a member of the European Union (EU), if not its driving engine. Most EU members have differing views with regard to President Erdogan of Turkey. The common thread of their approach to Turkey has been to stonewall that country’s accession to the EU. Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel always advocated a “healthy distance” from Europe for Turkey. Germany’s position was to offer a special status for Turkey in Europe, but never full membership.
But recent political developments seem to have changed this policy. President Erdogan played the role of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice by triggering a chain of events which he could not control; a civil war by his instigation collapsed his domestic policy and his foreign policy got stuck in the Syrian quagmire.
Although Chancellor Merkel is embracing Erdogan and Turkey with all their burning issues, she could have been better served to opt for a more prudent policy, had she heeded the warnings of one of the major German papers. Indeed, in a long article, Der Spiegel, analyzing the situation in Turkey, wrote, “Recep Tayyip Erdogan — a devout Muslim, gifted populist, modernizer and father of the country’s economic miracle — is in danger of becoming an autocrat, one who is dragging his own nation into civil war and stoking external conflicts. First, he wanted to overthrow the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and then he ignored the Islamic State (IS) for a long time. And now, he’s been fighting the Kurds, the West’s only partner in the battle against the Islamic extremists. Erdogan is reinstating old battlefronts and stirring mistrust and nationalism. He is imprisoning journalists and critics. And his soldiers are cordoning off and firing on entire Kurdish cities …. [Turkey] is a country at risk of falling into collective insanity, driven there by fanaticism, excessive nationalism and bizarre conspiracy theories.”
At the beginning of the 21st century, Erdogan has resorted once again to the practice of ethnic cleansing, which his country experienced in the 1930s under Ataturk and later under the dictator Kenan Evran, following the military coup of 1980. Martial Law has been declared in the Cizre region, foreign journalists are banned while the Turkish army conducts indiscriminate bombing of Kurdish villages. In view of all these atrocities, Chancellor Merkel has rushed to Turkey, overturning her traditional policy of keeping away Turks in Europe and promising expedited dialogue with the Erdogan administration for Turkey’s admission to the EU.
Erdogan’s goal in resorting to his violent policy was to intimidate Kurds at home to assure absolute majority in the parliament in the November 1 election and to deflect the potential for the creation of a Kurdish enclave along Turkey’s borders.
The influx of Syrian refugees into Turkey was Erdogan’s own doing by instigating the war in Syria. Those refugees did not decide on their own to abandon their native land to seek a haven in Turkey. Erdogan himself displaced them, replacing them with Turkic extremists recruited from Turkmenistan and Xingjian Province of China (Uighurs) to fan the flames of his Ottoman dreams. Then the forceful Russian offensive in Syria dashed Erdogan’s plans, giving an additional excuse for him to cry wolf in Germany. After Erdogan’s visit, Angela Merkel flew to Ankara to reward Turkey for its crimes.
Erdogan encouraged these Syrian refugees to flood Europe, which was ill prepared to receive and to resettle them. Two million Syrian refugees have flooded Turkey, costing $7 billion in humanitarian aid. Logic would have dictated punishing Erdogan for creating this humanitarian disaster, yet politics are not based on that kind of logic. In addition to encouraging Turkey in its dream to enter Europe, Chancellor Merkel has pledged to help Turkey with $3.4 billion in aid to compensate it for receiving and handling the refugee problem.
The online journal Strategic Culture Foundation writes in its October 22, 2015 issue, “Merkel’s suggestion is that Turkey’s integration into the EU can be sped up, using refugee management as a bargaining chip. ‘How can we organize the accession process more dynamically,’ she posed at a press conference in Istanbul. ‘Germany is ready to open Chapter 17 this year and to make preparations for chapters 23 and 24.’”
The Greeks have demonstrated a cowardly duplicity in front of Turkey’s assertive thrust into Europe, by grandstanding first and chickening out later; once again Cypriot Foreign Minister Ionnis Kasoulides has announced to the Associated Press: “Cyprus will not consent to letting Turkey restart stalled negotiations to join the European Union because Ankara has not done enough to help ongoing talks to reunify ethnically split country.” But on the other hand, Cyprus’ permanent representative to the EU, Kornelios Korneliou has stated on government radio that the Cypriot administration could agree to EU talks on its economy and monetary policy.
Germany is once again in its traditional role of rescuing Turkey. Merkel’s blanket bailout to Erdogan can demonstrate how ugly politics can get.
Should Germany go ahead with its reversal of policy Europe has to embrace Turkey at its own peril.
While politics are being played on a grander scale, two Armenian issues have already become the casualties of those policies. The first one is the Bundestag resolution on the Armenian Genocide. It is true that the German president, Joachim Gauck and Bundestag President Norbert Lammert have given speeches during the course of the centennial year, and they have defined the massacres as genocide without mincing words, however, those speeches do not amount to an official resolution.
The German paper Der Spiegel, on October 17, commented on the issue that the German government is going out of its way to win over Turkey. The report says that the approval of the Armenian resolution that was so hotly debated this April in the Parliament will be postponed. It claims that the governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (SCU) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) have “quietly” agreed to delay the pending final reading of the bill for as long as possible. Ironically, the only group supporting the resolution is the Green party, whose leader, Cem Ozdemir, an ethnic Turk, has criticized the other parties by stating: “The coalition is stalling but the clock is running out for the commemorative year, which is quickly coming to an end.”
Why is Merkel so anxious to embrace Turkey, Der Spiegel asks? “The German government needs Turkey in tackling the refugee crisis. Turkey is important right now — the most important transit country for refugees from the Middle East who hope to reach Europe and especially Germany.”
Whereas the refugee problem is a temporary issue, Merkel’s political expediency will result in sealing Europe’s destiny permanently with a Turkish banner.
The other casualty was of course the outrageous ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the case pitting Dogu Perinçek versus Switzerland, which saw that the racist Turkish politician was let off the hook for his denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Much has been written about the issue, trying to salvage some positive elements in the ruling. The matter of the fact is that the verdict was clearly a political decision more than a legal judgment. To justify that decision, politically motivated legal experts can split hairs to demonstrate that the denial of the Jewish Holocaust can be criminalized in Europe but not the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
We can remember the case of a UN resolution in 1975 defining Zionism as a form of racism. Israel and its lobbyists fought for years and through US muscle, the resolution was overturned in 1991. That is how politics can shape the legality of these kinds of cases.
As we can see, Turkey is marching triumphantly through its disastrous behavior with German crutches. We can only wish to God to help Armenians and the Kurds.