Sunday, 5 June 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Full of articles before and after Vote

[the press is full of articles both before and after the vote. 

Only a selection can be distributed]

BBC Radio 4
Law in Action Program
22 April 2016
Crimes Against Humanity 

What does 'genocide' mean? 
How does it differ from 'crimes against humanity? 
And why should there should be tension between two apparently 
related concepts - and between the two lawyers who devised them?

Rozenberg explores the origins of international criminal law. 

Only a fleeting reference to the Armenian Genocide in an interesting account of the legal aspects of two different concepts. 

Turkey Accused of Denial Over Armenian Genocide Amid Diplomatic Spat
© REUTERS/ Hannibal Hanschke

Sputnik has been told Turkey is mired in 'denial' in a diplomatic spat
that dates back 100 years to the massacre of Armenians and now
threatens the EU-Turkey migrant deal.

This comes in the wake of warnings from Turkey's leadership that the
decision would adversely affect Turkish-German relations, given that
over a century on, the Turkish government still refuses to acknowledge
the term "genocide", referring simply to the"events of 1915".

In 2007, the Turkish General Staff, which presides of the Armed 
Forces in Turkey, stated that the term 'genocide' is not valid, saying:

"The so-called Armenian genocide is a totally made-up, unreal 
and unfounded scenario of imagination based on enmity 
towards Turks and lacking any valid instruments, proofs or 
any legal basis."
Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan continues to hold this position
and has leveled warnings towards Germany with regards to Thursday's
vote, saying:

"If Germany would go to such a step, it will damage the diplomatic,
trade, political and military relations with Turkey."

Bundestag's vote comes at a delicate time for relations between the
two countries, given Turkey's agreement with the EU to take in a
sizable proportion of refugees fleeing into Europe — a deal which now
looks less and less stable, given the announcement that Ankara has now
withdrawn its Ambassador to Germany.

The Armenian Genocide refers to the Ottoman government's systematic
extermination of Armenians during 1915 — 1917. The genocide began with
the killing of the population's able bodied men, followed by the
deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm who were lead
on death marches into the Syrian desert.

Theo M van Lint, Professor of Armenian Studies at the University 
of Oxford, told Sputnik that the position held by the Turkish 
government didn't hold up:

"It is completely clear that what happened was genocide and [Turkey's
position] is just a continuation of a denialist policy. There can be
no doubt about it whatsoever, what happened is completely in line with
the United Nations definition of genocide, accepted shortly after the
second world war by Raphael Lemkin. It is just Turkey — that is to say
its government — that doesn't want to come to terms with what

He added: "I'm very glad that Germany has accepted this, because
Germany — after the Second World War — did come to terms with its own
past, and I think this is long overdue…  If you never come to terms
with your past then it lingers."

Professor van Lint also argued that the Armenian genocide has received
very little attention in terms of a mainstream understanding of
history in the region, and that western governments — such as Britain
and the US — have been unhelpful, saying:

"They are still unfortunately complicit in a denial — I try to 
put it very carefully, but I think it is very grave — not 
encouraging Turkey to come to terms with its past, thereby 
giving Turkey the impression that it can, with impunity, 
continue with a denialist course."

Last year saw the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide — during
which an estimated 1.2 million Armenians were killed — it has now been
officially recognised by 27 countries.  Israel, the United Kingdom and
the United States however, continue not to recognise the events as

Daily Sabah, Turkey
June 1 2016
Thousands of Turks rally against Armenian resolution bill in Berlin

Around 10,000 ethnic Turks rallied in Berlin on Wednesday in protest
at a parliamentary proposal to call the deaths of Ottoman Armenians in
1915 as genocide.

The resolution, which is to be voted on Thursday, refers to the
deportation of Armenians without reference to the deaths of Muslim
Ottomans during World War I.

Addressing the crowd in front of the Brandenburg Gate, Turkish scholar
Ali Soylemezoglu dismissed claims of the systematic killing of
Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915.

"There is no genocide in our history," he said. "This resolution 
is not based on facts, it is a smear to us."
Demonstrators carried Turkish and German flags as well as placards
reading "Stop distorting historical facts", "We are against hate, we
are for solidarity", "Long live Turkish-German friendship" and "No to
lies about genocide".

Gokay Sofuoglu, head of the Turkish Community in Germany umbrella
group, said the resolution would not help reconciliation between
Turkey and Armenia but could further alienate Turkish immigrants in

"We have been arguing for many years that there is a need for
establishing a commission of historians, carrying out extensive
research and later on taking steps in line with its outcome," he told
Anadolu Agency, pointing to disputes among historians about the events
of 1915.

Sofuoglu said it should be up to international courts to decide
whether the deportation of Armenians involved systematic killings, as
claimed by the Armenian historians but disputed by many Turkish

"Genocide is a special concept in law," he said. "Decisions of
parliaments change over time. In the future you may have another group
getting a majority in parliament and making a completely different
decision on that," he commented.

- Double standards towards Turkey

Asiye Bilgin, deputy head of the influential conservative Union of
European Turkish Democrats, said the motion ignored differing views on
the period and backed Armenian claims.

"In recent years, Turks in Germany have been uneasy about politicians'
double standards on issues related to Turkey," she said. "They are
losing confidence in German politics. We hope that German lawmakers
won't lead to the Turkish community being further alienated."

Bilgin underlined that passage of the motion would have a 
negative impact on integration, as well as relations between 
Turkey and Germany.
Germany's parliament is set to vote Thursday on the controversial
resolution submitted by the parliamentary groups of the ruling
Christian Democrats, its coalition partner Social Democrats, and the
opposition Green Party.

The non-binding resolution accuses the Ottoman government of 1915 of
carrying out systematic genocide against Armenians, as well as other
Christian minorities.

Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" and
describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.

- Merkel to skip vote

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government has not actively
supported the controversial resolution, but also has not tried to
block it in parliament.

Merkel's spokeswoman said Wednesday that she would not attend the vote
on Thursday, due to scheduling conflicts.

But deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz confirmed that
Merkel had voted in favor of the draft resolution, during a
consultative vote in her parliamentary group.

Merkel has recently faced widespread criticism from the media and
opposition parties for her close cooperation with Turkey to address
the refugee crisis.

Critics argue that Merkel made Germany dependent on Turkey, and is
giving into pressure from Ankara on many foreign policy issues, while
shying away from criticizing human rights shortcomings.

Many lawmakers from the ruling parties back the resolution to
demonstrate to the public that they are not giving into pressure from

If approved Thursday, the resolution would be the first one by a
German parliament clearly calling the Armenian tragedy of 1915 a

- Berlin hopes cooperation will continue

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schafer said Wednesday that
Berlin hopes that the resolution will not undermine close cooperation
betweenGermany and Turkey in addressing common challenges.

"I hope and also expect that the possible decision of Germany's
federal parliament tomorrow will not bring any long-term damage to
relations with Turkey," Schafer told reporters in Berlin.

"On the contrary we have many issues that we would like to address
together with Turkey, including the years-long process of Turkey's
membership application to Turkey, but also many other issues. That
also includes the refugee deal," he added.

Turkey's position is that deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia in
1915 occurred after some sided with invading Russians and revolted
against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted
in numerous casualties.

Ankara denies the alleged genocide, but acknowledges that there were
casualties on both sides during the World War I events.

Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as 'genocide' but
describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of
historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts, to
tackle the issue.

June 2 2016
Germany Faces Turkish Wrath After Recognizing Armenian 
Patrick Donahue
Onur Ant Ankara

Germany’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to recognize the Ottoman
Empire’s 1915 killings and deportations of Armenians as genocide,
prompting Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan to warn that
relations between the two countries will suffer.

Turkey recalled its ambassador to Berlin after lawmakers in the
630-member lower house, or Bundestag, passed the resolution on
Thursday by a show of hands, with one vote against and one abstention.
The decision puts Germany in line with countries such as France,
Russia, Greece, Sweden and the Netherlands in recognizing the events
during World War I as a deliberate campaign of extermination.

The vote “could seriously impact German-Turkish relations,” Erdogan
told reporters during a trip to Kenya. “We will discuss measures that
can be taken after we return home and then we will take necessary
steps accordingly.”

With angry reactions from Turkish officials preceding the Bundestag
session, Merkel and Erdogan spoke by phone on Tuesday in an effort to
preserve the European Union’s refugee accord with Turkey. That deal is
central to Merkel’s effort to stem migration and reverse a poll
decline set off by last year’s record influx of asylum seekers to

Though Merkel skipped the ballot to hold a previously scheduled speech
in Berlin, her three-party governing coalition and the opposition
Greens joined to sponsor the measure, which her party says is intended
to spur reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia.

“Controversial disputes are a part of democratic culture,” Merkel told
reporters after the resolution passed. German-Turkish ties are broad
enough, including on security matters, that they can withstand “a
difference of opinion on a particular question,” she said.

German Atonement

The measure includes a German expression of regret that its 
World War I imperial government did nothing to stop the 
Armenian bloodshed at the hands of its Ottoman allies, despite 
receiving information about the events. Turkey has acknowledged 
the killings and deportations that began in April 1915, but has 
 disputed the genocide label.

Underscoring the fragility of the refugee accord, Erdogan last week
threatened to scrap Turkey’s pledge to take back migrants seeking
passage to Europe unless the EU follows through on visa liberalization
for Turks. A day later, Merkel said the EU and Turkey wouldn’t meet a
June deadline for a visa deal.

German lawmakers want to commemorate the “genocide of the Armenians
and other Christian minorities in 1915 and 1916,” according to the
resolution, which cites historians, other parliaments and
international organizations that already “describe the deportation and
extermination of the Armenians as genocide.”

“Turkey’s current government isn’t responsible for what happened 100
years ago, but it does share responsibility for what happens going
forward,” Bundestag President Norbert Lammert said in a speech to the
lower house. “A parliament is no commission of historians and it isn’t
a court. But the German Bundestag does not want to sidestep
uncomfortable questions.”

‘Irresponsible’ Vote

Merkel’s coalition first presented a resolution in April 2015 after
German President Joachim Gauck condemned the Armenians’ suffering last
year on the 100th anniversary. That led to negotiations with the
Greens on a joint motion, even as the refugee crisis and the EU-Turkey
accord made the surrounding politics more difficult.

While Erdogan struck a measured tone, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut
Cavusoglu lashed out in a Twitter posting.

“Irresponsible and unsupported parliamentary decisions that smear
other countries’ pasts aren’t the way to close dark chapters in your
own history,” he said.

Business Insider, UK
June 1 2016
Why the Armenian Genocide of 1915 could collapse the EU's 
refugee deal with Turkey today
Barbara Tasch

In the latest round of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's milking of the EU-Turkey
refugee deal, the Turkish President has now threatened Berlin over the
Bundestag's motion to declare the 1915 killing of up to 1.5 million
Armenians by Ottoman Turks a "genocide."

Erdogan said the vote would damage relations between the two
countries. The fear is that Turkey might abandon the already shaky
EU-Turkey deal, in which the EU has agreed to pay Turkey €6 billion
(about $6.7 billion), and in return Turkey keeps hundreds of thousands
of refugees from the Middle East out of Europe.

German lawmakers are expected to approve the resolution to call the
killings a genocide on Thursday. The denomination is one that Turkey
strongly rejects.

The massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians, the vast majority of whom
were Christian, by the Ottoman Turks is widely recognized as a
genocide by historians throughout the world. The mass killings started
on April 24, 1915, when about 250 Armenian intellectuals and community
leaders were rounded up in Constantinople by authorities, most of whom
were then deported and murdered.

To those who see the killings as a genocide, this is when the
systematic killing of all Armenians in Turkey began under the rule of
the Ottoman Turks. The origin of the enmity between the Turks and the
Armenians is long and complicated. Basically, the Ottoman Empire went
into decline at the beginning of the 20th century and lost 85% of its
territory by about 1912. A flood of Muslim refugees from the lost
Balkan territories entered Turkey, and that provoked an
ultranationalist backlash against the Armenians who lived there.

The Ottoman government saw the situation as an ongoing war, in which
the Armenians were sympathetic to the Russian enemy who had ejected
Muslims from the Caucasus. In fact, many Armenians fought alongside
the Russians in the Caucasus during World War I. The Armenians were
regarded as an internal security threat. Rouben Paul Adalian, an
American historian, and director of the Armenian National Institute
wrote in the Encyclopedia of Genocide:

In April 1915 the Ottoman government embarked upon the systematic
decimation of its civilian Armenian population. The persecutions
continued with varying intensity until 1923 when the Ottoman Empire
ceased to exist and was replaced by the Republic of Turkey. The
Armenian population of the Ottoman state was reported at about two
million in 1915. An estimated one million had perished by 1918, while
hundreds of thousands had become homeless and stateless refugees. By
1923 virtually the entire Armenian population of Anatolian Turkey had

To the Armenians, having the mass-scale killing of their ancestors
recognized as a genocide is very important and April 24, known as "Red
Sunday," is commemorated every year by Armenians around the world.

Turkey, however, refuses to recognise the mass killings as a genocide,
saying that it was during a time of war and that the Armenian people
presented a threat the Ottoman Turks because most of the Armenians had
sided with Russia during World War I when the Ottoman Empire was an
ally of Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Turkey's longstanding position is that that the reported number of
people killed is exaggerated; there was no organized campaign to wipe
out the Armenians; and that there is no evidence of such orders from
the Ottoman authorities of the day.

Adalian concludes that Turkey succeeded in its plan:

Triumphant in its total annihilation of the Armenians and relieved of
any obligations to the victims and survivors, the Turkish Republic
adopted a policy of dismissing the charge of genocide and denying that
the deportations and atrocities had constituted part of a deliberate
plan to exterminate the Armenians. When the Red Army sovietized what
remained of Russian Armenia in 1920, the Armenians had been compressed
into an area amounting to no more than ten percent of the territories
of their historic homeland.

Death threats

Last year, 100 years after the start of the massacre, a slew of
European nations passed motions that officially recognized the killing
of the Armenians as a genocide.

Germany, where the issue is more sensitive than in other nations due
to the high number of Turks living there, passed a first reading in
April 2015 but the second and third readings needed to make it
official have been pushed back ever since. According to German
magazine Der Spiegel, the government wanted to avoid "needlessly
provoking" Ankara when their aid is so desperately needed to tackle
the refugee crisis.

The United Kingdom and the United States do not officially recognise
the massacre as a genocide.

Erdogan lashed out at those who he said were trying to "deceive"
Germany over the 1915 massacres, and said, according to Reuters, 
that "If Germany is to be deceived by this, then bilateral diplomatic,
economic, trade, political, and military ties — we are both NATO
countries — will be damaged.

German politicians and journalists covering the event have since then
received threats.

Journalists who use the word "genocide" in their reporting have
reported receiving emails that included death threats. Der Spiegel
reports that one particular email to a journalist said, "Your end will
be the same as Hrant Dink's." Dink was an Armenian-Turkish journalist
who was murdered in Istanbul in 2007 by a far-right Turkish youth.

More than 500 Turkish organisations have also put together a text they
are urging Turks living in Germany to send to politicians. They write
that over 90% of the Turkish population does not accept that the
massacres amount to genocide and that passing the readings would be
"poison for the peaceful coexistence between Germans and Turks in this
country, but also in Turkey," according to Der Spiegel.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan urged German lawmakers to not bow to
Turkish pressure in an interview with German newspaper Bild. "I am
sure: the politicians in the Bundestag see it the same way and will
not allow themselves to be intimidated," he said, "If one makes
compromises for short-term political interests, then one ends up doing
so again and again. And that is bad for Germany, that is bad for
Europe and the world."

The Greens, who have pushed for the resolution, have done so at a very
bad time for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is struggling to
keep the EU-Turkey deal afloat. The task was made significantly harder
since the dismissal last week of her staunchest ally in Turkey, Prime
Minister Davotuglo.

Cem Oezdemir, a leader of the Green Party who has Turkish roots, told
Reuters: "It wasn't our goal to hold this vote now, but the timing is
not that important. The Bundestag is doing this because this is also a
part of German history. The Ottoman and German empires were
essentially brothers in arms."

The resolution also aims to address the role of Germany during the
killings but starts by condemned the massacre as genocide: "The fate
of the Armenians is exemplary in the history of mass exterminations,
ethnic cleansing, deportations and yes, genocide, which marked the
20th century in such a terrible way."

Merkel, who last month was heavily criticized after she authorized the
prosecution of a German comedian who had insulted Erdogan, is expected
to vote for the resolution, gambling on the deal that is keeping a
potential 3 million refugees living in Turkey out of Europe.

No comments: