‘My Way’ Is Helping Children with Autism in Armenia

It was not the atmosphere we expected to find in a center for youngsters with autism: laughter rang out of one room where children were busily painting, while piano music sounded in another room, where two young lads were performing a duet. Playing from memory without scores, they were fully concentrated, absorbed in producing the strong rhythms. When one of the lads played a solo piece, his companion grabbed the hands of a woman (who turned out to be his mother) and swept her up in dancing across the floor. In another room, a child hovered over his notebook, carefully writing out exercise sentences in Armenian under the watchful eyes of his teacher. In other small rooms, the same one-on-one combination of specialist and student was to be seen: whether in speech therapy or physical therapy. The scenes depicted youngsters concentrated on tasks that they were carrying out in their own fashion, with serenity, or delight or outright joy. The meaning of the center’s slogan — “I am different, I am one of you” — was immediately apparent.

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German Troops to Leave Incirlik

When Turkish government officials repeated to German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel their refusal to allow German parliamentarians unconditional access to their troops at Incirlik base, it was the proverbial straw that broke that suffering camel’s back. Gabriel had travelled to Ankara on June 5 in a last-ditch effort to reach a compromise solution to the conflict that has strained relations, both bilateral and within NATO, to an unprecedented degree. After talks with both Foreign Minister Mevlùt Çavusoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Gabriel made clear that Germany would have no choice but to withdraw its troops and relocate them.Read Further...

Erdogan’s Referendum and Germany’s Dilemma

Turkish citizens who went to the polls on April 16 were saying “yes” or “no” not only to a new constitution but to the future of relations with Europe. This was the interpretation offered at a public debate organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a think-tank linked to the German Liberal Party (FDP). Convened on May 19 near Frankfurt, the event addressed the theme: “The Sick Democracy on the Bosporus: Is Turkey Taking Leave of the West?” The round table, moderated by Dr. Rainer Hermann, who was the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s correspondent in Turkey for more than a decade, brought together prominent politicians who have been involved in bilateral relations with Turkey.Read Further...

Armenia’s Heart: Poems … and Nothing More

Anyone who knows anything about Armenians is aware of the special role their language plays in their history and culture, and nowhere is this more obvious than in their rich poetical tradition. In Germany, this tradition is not unknown; in the 1970s and 1980s, through cooperation between literary associations in the then-Communist East Germany (GDR) and Soviet Armenia, translations of works appeared by Hovhannes Tumanyan, Avetik Issahakyan and Paruyr Sevak as well as an anthology of medieval verse. At the same time, literary journals in West Germany featured some translations. Now, in the wake of the recognition of the genocide last June by the German Bundestag (Parliament), a wave of interest in Armenian literature has swept across the intellectual landscape.
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Genocide Commemoration after Recognition in Germany

Since the German Bundestag (Parliament) passed a resolution on the Armenian Genocide last year in June, the focus has shifted from the demand for recognition to other concerns; on the one hand, there has been further study of the role of Imperial Germany in the Genocide and, on the other, there are efforts underway to introduce the theme in history lessons in German classrooms. This shift in focus was perceptible in the commemoration held in Berlin on April 24, where several speakers, remembering the past, looked to the future.Read Further...

Turkish Referendum: The Price of Winning

The “Yes” vote in the Turkish referendum may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Not only was the reported margin in favor of the constitutional changes far slimmer than Erdogan’s AKP party and pre-election polls had expected, with only 51.4 percent of the vote, but the political fallout in Europe may be profound.Read Further...

Cloak and Dagger in German-Turkish Relations

The news that the Turkish intelligence agency MIT was not only spying on German citizens in their home country, but had requested help in this pursuit from the German intelligence service BND, signaled a new low-point in Berlin-Ankara relations. Relations had already been poisoned by wild accusations made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against the German government and Chancellor Angela Merkel that she was “Nazi-like” and “using Nazi methods.” The resulting controversy regarding whether or not to allow AKP politicians to campaign in Germany for a “yes” vote on the upcoming referendum ended in a decision, by Ankara, to cancel all such planned events. That seemed to lower the political temperature.Read Further...

Analysis: The Sick Man on the Bosporus

The ostensible casus belli in the escalating conflict between Turkey and Europe, especially Germany, is the April 16 referendum on the introduction of a presidential system which would grant the Turkish president powers so vast as to eliminate checks and balances on the part of other institutions like the judiciary and parliament. In what is shaping up as a tight race, the ruling AKP seeks to win over Turkish citizens living abroad for a “yes” vote and therefore demands the right for its politicians, be they government representatives or party officials or not, to campaign freely in Germany, the Netherlands, France and other countries with a Turkish community. The AKP has cheerfully ignored the fact that such campaigning abroad is in flagrant violation of Article 94/A of Turkish electoral law.Read Further...

AKP in Campaign Frenzy: Crossing the Red Lines

Few could have imagined the depth to which relations between Germany and Turkey have sunk over the past weeks. No matter how accustomed one has become with outrageous statements issuing from Ankara, who could have predicted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would accuse the government of Angela Merkel of “Nazi practices”? On March 5 in a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan, addressing Berlin, said there was “no difference between your practices and the Nazi practices in the past.” Read Further...

In Praise of Folly

In Germany, the tradition of political carnival goes back centuries, in Mainz, for example, it reaches back to the Napoleonic period, more than 200 years ago. This year Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the star of the show. Read Further...

Poland Welcomes Promising Armenian Vocalist

“Incredible Lusine Arakelyan gave a great New Year’s concert at the Warsaw concert hall in front of 1,200 guests. Her beautiful voice and great musical experience are unforgettable. The audience gave her several standing ovations. The orchestra conductor also praised her voice and performance.” This is how singer and music critic Kristina Sulzichka put it in a review of the event.Read Further...

Architecture as Witness to Genocide

For almost a decade, a photographic exhibition on the “Nakba,” the expulsion of the Palestinians from their lands in 1947-48, has been travelling around Germany, and in virtually every site, the organizers from the Association of Refugee Children in Lebanon have run up against opposition. Pro-Zionist groups have mobilized to have the exhibition rooms — often in universities — cancelled, arguing that the exhibition is anti-Israel, or even anti-Semitic. The reason? According to official Israeli historiography, there were no expulsions, killings or seizure of Palestinian lands. Some say the Palestinians as a people never existed, or if they did, not in that geographical location.Read Further...

Music for the Republican Army

If last year Armenians celebrated the silver anniversary of independence, the year 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Army of the Republic of Armenia. And to kick off a series of cultural celebrations, two Armenian associations in Germany organized a concert on January 28 in Frankfurt featuring guitarist and singer-songwriter Ruben Hakhvedyan. The renowned musician from Yerevan was joined on the stage by cellist Levon Arakelyan and accordionist Gevorg Movsisyan.Read Further...

Decade after Dink: Cem Ozdemir to Headline Program Honoring Late Journalist

It is hard to believe that 10 years have passed since Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated in cold blood in Istanbul, outside the offices of Agos, the bilingual weekly newspaper he co-founded and for which he served as editor-in-chief.Read Further...

State Prize Awarded to ‘Aghet’ Director

Films are not only for entertainment, but may have the power to change political reality. This is certainly the case with “Aghet” by director Eric Friedler. First released in 2010 and widely covered on German television, the documentary on the Armenian Genocide paved the way for the Genocide recognition resolution passed by the Bundestag (Parliament) on June 2, 2016. For Green Party leader and parliamentarian Cem Özdemir, who delivered the laudation at a ceremony awarding Friedler the State Prize of the Republic of Armenia in Berlin on December 14, the director was “a very central forerunner” on the way to the resolution.Read Further...

Liman von Sanders: A Matter of Honor

What constitutes honor? This is not an abstract question, but a very practical one in connection with a controversy that has recently erupted in Germany. The case involves the designation of “graves of honor” in a historic cemetery in the city of Darmstadt, not far from Frankfurt. …We came to the grave of General Liman von Sanders (1855-1929), who had been accorded this honor for his military service in World War I, as one of the German generals engaged in the Dardanelles, leading Ottoman Empire forces. On his tombstone was inscribed not only his official military title but also “The Victor of Gallipoli.” We then learned that in 2015, General von Sanders was formally divested of this honor, along with six other deceased. The reason? Officially, because of his role as a military officer in that war. In fact, the other military figures buried with honors were similarly defrocked by order of the Darmstadt city authorities on grounds that “their status rested exclusively on military successes.” But that is not the end of the story...Read Further...