Thursday February 21, 2019

German Parliament recognizes Armenian massacre of 1915 as ‘Genocide’

Turkey has had a history of violently rebutting any country deciding to recognize the Armenian crisis as a genocide

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Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Establishment of the national Parliament. Image source: Wikipedia
  • Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Lawyer, coined the term ‘Genocide’, and believes the first genocide was that of the Armenians by the Ottoman authorities
  • The Ottomans’ ruling Committee of Union and Progress planned to forcibly relocate the Armenians to the Arab parts of the Empire
  • This controversy dates all the way back to the First World War

German parliament passed an overwhelming resolution on Thursday June 2 to recognize the atrocities and mass killings meted out to Armenians in 1915 as Genocide. The resolution has further stirred up the already volatile atmosphere between Turkey and the European Union regarding how to handle the refugee crisis.

Turkey has had a history of violently rebutting any country deciding to recognize the Armenian crisis as a genocide. It withdrew its envoys from the Vatican and Austria after the Pope and Austrian lawmakers first used the word. Along similar lines, Turkey has now withdrawn its ambassador to Germany. United States of America and Israel have not yet made use of the term, only to protect the Turkish sentiment.

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This controversy dates all the way back to the First World War. Just a few years before the onset the war, the Young Turks seized power of the then powerful Ottoman Empire, which spanned North Africa, parts of Europe and the Middle East. The new rulers, who had pledged their allegiance to Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire believed they could conquer the Russian army and thus greatly weaken the Allied Forces, Britain, France and Russia.

Secularism in Turkey. Image source: Wikipedia
Secularism in Turkey. Image source: Wikipedia

Things didn’t play out to the best of their interests, and they lost to Russia. This loss created a distrust towards the Armenians. Historian Eugene Rogan tells NPR, “What happened was a small number of [Armenian] militants who did cross over to the Russian side, who did actively try and recruit Armenians to support the Russian cause, made life extremely dangerous for the majority of Armenian civilians who basically had no fight with anyone, did not wish to be drawn into any war and found themselves under tremendous pressure; soldiers who, suspected by their Turkish comrades, begin to get shot down.”

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The Ottomans’ ruling Committee of Union and Progress planned to forcibly relocate the Armenians to the Arab parts of the Empire, but things didn’t just end there. In the first of the killings, some 250 intellectuals and senior counselors of the Armenian community were rounded up and eventually murdered. This was the onset of a frenzy that ended in the death of 1.5 million Armenians.

Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Lawyer, coined the term ‘Genocide’, and believes the first genocide was that of the Armenians by the Ottoman authorities. It is natural for Turkey, which rose from the Ottoman Empire, to find it difficult admitting that the Armenian killings were indeed a genocide, but German Parliament speaker Norbert Lammert said, Turkey’s current government is not responsible for what happened 100 years ago, ‘but it shares responsibility for what happens with it in the future.’ It was important for Germany to acknowledge the massacre of Armenians since it shared responsibilities for the occurrence of the disaster as an ally to the then Ottoman Empire.

-by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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Government Of Germany Lays Out Plan To Phase Coal Out By 2038

Despite its reputation as a green country, Germany relies heavily on coal for its power needs

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Water vapor rises from the cooling towers of the Jaenschwalde lignite-fired power plant of Lausitz Energie Bergbau AG beside a wind turbine in Jaenschwalde, Germany, Jan. 24, 2019. VOA

A government-appointed commission laid out a plan Saturday for Germany to phase out coal use by 2038.

The commission — made up of politicians, climate experts, union representatives and industry figures from coal regions — developed the plan under mounting pressure on Europe’s top economy to step up efforts to combat climate change.

 

Coal, Germany
coal-fired Scherer Plant, one of the top carbon emitters in the U.S., is seen in Juliette, Georgia, June, 3, 2017. (VOA)

 

“This is a historic day,” the commission’s head, Ronald Pofalla, said after 20 hours of negotiations.

The recommendations, which involve at least $45.6 billion in aid to coal-mining states affected by the move, must be reviewed by the German government and 16 regional states.

Climate
A wind turbine overlooks the coal-fired power station in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. VOA

While some government officials lauded the report, energy provider RWE, which runs several coal-fired plants, said the 2038 cutoff date would be “way too early.”

Also Read: Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

Despite its reputation as a green country, Germany relies heavily on coal for its power needs, partly because of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to phase out nuclear power plants by 2022 in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Coal accounted for more than 30 percent of Germany’s energy mix in 2018 — significantly higher than the figures in most other European countries. (VOA)