June 2, 2016
By Robert Fisk
The Turks always shout and threaten when someone wants to acknowledge the facts of history: that one and a half million Armenian Christians were the victims of Turkish Ottoman genocide in 1915. But did Sultan Erdogan really think that Germany – of all nations – would choose to be a Holocaust denier?
Well, the German parliament has voted by a quite extraordinary majority to declare the Armenian genocide a genocide – which the whole world (except, of course, for the Turks) knows it to be. There were the usual menaces to Germany – a danger to cultural/trade/military “ties” – from the government in Ankara and flocks of vicious e-mails to German MPs, but the parliamentary resolution rubbed in the fact that Ottoman Turkey was an ally of Germany when it perpetrated the atrocities and that Germany itself did not do enough to stop the genocide.
Poor Angela Merkel – who still prays that Sultan Erdogan will stand by her Operation Bribery campaign and keep back the refugees from the EU for a whopping €3bn and an offer of visa free travel in the eurozone – chose to stay absent from the vote. So did her vice-chancellor and her sad foreign minister, who would not have voted for the motion anyway. The greatest irony – utterly ignored by all politicians and journalists – is that the refugees and migrants whom Europe is now so frightened of come, in many cases, from the very towns and deserts in which the Turks committed their acts of horror against the Armenians 101 years ago.
The skulls and bones of Armenians still lie in the sands south of the Turkish border which Isis now controls; and when al-Nusrah captured parts of Deir ez-Zor, they blew up the Armenian cathedral of the Syrian city, took the bones of genocide victims from the vaults and scattered them in the streets. Several German officials who witnessed the original genocide went on to use their ‘expertise’ during the Jewish Holocaust in the Nazi occupied Soviet Union. And Hitler, preparing to invade Poland in 1939, asked his generals: “Who…is today speaking of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
Needless to say, we saw the usual weedy fence-sitting by the news agencies (especially by those with offices in Ankara and Istanbul) who emphasised the Turkish denial of the genocide and the “hotly disputed” nature of an international crime against humanity which – were those same agencies writing of the Jewish genocide – they would rightly never dare to ‘balance’ by quotations from deniers.
France and Russia and at least 18 other nations now accept the Armenian genocide as a fact of history, along with good old Pope Francis – the only major exception being the one whose name we would all guess: the US. An almost annual visit to Washington by a coterie of Turkish generals is usually enough to bring the White House to heel. Doesn’t America need those important air bases in south-eastern Turkey from which the US wages war against Isis (and from which, speak it not, Turkey now wages war against Kurds)?
But thank God, once more, for Germany. Here was one vote for which the country would be certain to snap obediently to attention.