From Berlin to Yerevan — Direct

The revolutionary developments in the Republic of Armenia have sparked enormous interest in Germany and a new air link between the two capitals promises to fuel that interest even more. Germania, an independent German airline, has proudly announced that its first direct flight from Berlin to Yerevan took place 16-17 June.Read Further...

Turks Go to the Polls in Germany

By all forecasts, the outcome of the parliamentary and presidential elections in Turkey will be close, so close, some say, that there could be a runoff for the presidency. If Recep Tayip Erdogan does not receive a clear majority in the first round on June 24, he could face a candidate backed by a coalition of opposition parties. Two weeks later, a runoff would be called on July 8 (from June 30 to July 4 for voters abroad). And in that case, the votes cast by Turkish citizens living outside the country, who make up an estimated 5 percent of the total electorate, could prove decisive.Read Further...

Between Remembrance and Expectation

This year’s commemoration of the genocide was different in Germany. To be sure, there were speeches recalling the dark and tragic events of 1915, and there were demands for progress in implementing the measures contained in the genocide recognition resolution passed by the Bundestag (Parliament) in June 2016. There was magnificent music performed by talented young Armenians, and the ceremonies concluded with solemn prayers for the souls of the victims.Read Further...

Weaving Close Ties between Germany and Armenia

BERLIN — “Wisdom is the art of considering things from all sides.” The saying is by Nerses Shnorhali and it was printed in Armenian and in German on the invitation issued by the Armenian Embassy in Berlin to a ceremony on March 23. And it fit the occasion: we were invited to attend an event honoring two outstanding individuals who might be considered practitioners of the “art” in the political and cultural realm.Read Further...

The Plight of Afrin Reverberates Across Europe

On March 18, the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) carried a bold banner headline: “Battle for Afrin Now Also in Germany.” That night, television news reporters announced the fall of Afrin. And the violence on German soil has not abated. Over recent years, German politicians have increased their warnings that the political conflict inside Turkey, between AKP loyalists and opposition groups, could spill over onto German soil. Now it is the warring parties in Syria whose proxies and sympathizers are clashing here.Read Further...

Ecumenical Altars of Remembrance in Berlin

It was a bitter cold day in mid-February, with a strong wind that chilled to the bone. As we walked from the bus stop and entered the Luisenkirchhof III cemetery through the huge gate, I thought about the women and children being deported from their homes in Ottoman Empire over a hundred years ago, and what immense suffering they must have faced as they wound their way through inclement weather, on their march toward death.Read Further...

German Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Afrin

As the Turkish military offensive in Afrin has escalated, the caretaker government in Germany has come under growing pressure to intervene to stop the bloodshed. Since Germany has supplied Turkey with military equipment, its role has been subject to harsh criticism. Photographs of the Turkish actions aired on television confirmed suspicions that German tanks were indeed involved in the aggression against the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militias, who have been battling IS. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel declared that any decision regarding modernization of Turkey’s military — an item which had been discussed at the beginning of the year in bilateral meetings — would be put on ice, and deferred to the new government.Read Further...

Germany Appoints Honorary Consul in Gyumri

Gyumri has good reason to celebrate. One of its most prominent sons has been chosen as the honorary consul of Germany and this will bring relations between the two countries, on the political, economic and cultural level to new levels. The official ceremony took place on January 26, 2018.

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Turkey Releases One More German from Prison

One by one, and at a painfully slow tempo, German journalists and intellectuals unlawfully imprisoned by the Turkish authorities are being released. On December 18, it was the turn of Mesale Tolu, a translator and journalist who had been held for seven months. She was allowed to walk out of jail, but must remain in the country and report to authorities every week. Five other prisoners were released the same day under similar conditions. Tolu’s next hearing is scheduled for April 26, 2018.
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Small Town Politics in Germany Raise Diplomatic Fuss

Pohlheim is a small town in Germany, near Giessen in the state of Hessen, with just under 20,000 inhabitants. But a local initiative has attracted the attention and protest of a high-ranking Turkish diplomat. The city council had agreed to a proposal presented by the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Socialdemocrats (SPD) for a “Monument Commemorating the Victims of the Genocide against Christians in the Ottoman Empire 1915 – Remembrance and Admonition.”Read Further...

Armenians Hold Aurora Dialogues in Berlin

It was a refreshing change to see such an initiative in the German capital. As Aurora Humanitarian Initiative cofounder Ruben Vardanyan remarked, participants “were happy to see the representatives of a developing country thinking about universal humanitarian values and expressing concern about dangerous processes unfolding today around the world.” The developing country in question is the Republic of Armenia.
What most Germans know about Armenians has to do with the 1915 Genocide and the ongoing campaign to have Turkey recognize it. But this time, the focus was not Armenia or the past; it was a current and pressing issue facing the entire world: the challenges of global migration and how to meet them.Read Further...

Armenia and Germany Celebrate Quarter Century of Diplomatic Ties

By all accounts, it was a wonderful celebration. Ambassador Ashot Smbatyan, who together with Brandenburg’s Minister-President Dr. Dietmar Woidke, hosted the ceremony, welcomed the numerous guests for an evening of celebration, reflection and anticipation of future developments. Music and art framed the event, along with a fine cuisine.
“Twenty-five years ago the Republic of Armenia and the Federal Republic of Germany established diplomatic relations — again,” said Rosa Eisen in her program notes. “Again,” because the two countries had in fact had relations in the brief period between 1918 and 1920, of the Armenian Republic. The first Armenian ambassador to Germany during those two years, she explained, was James Greenfield. Then, in the wake of the October Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union, a new era began. In 1992, following independence, Armenia therefore re-established these, among many other, bilateral relations.Read Further...

Hostage to Erdogan

When Turkish authorities arrest German citizens they are not taking prisoners, but rather collecting hostages. What was mooted as a hypothesis months ago has been confirmed by the detention of two more individuals holding German passports.Read Further...

Erdogan’s Extraterritorial Ambitions: The Case of Dogan Akhanli

Deciphering the behavior of the President is a challenging task, and not only in the United States. Narcissism, paranoia and megalomania are the terms the psychiatrist would use to describe the brand of personality disorders driving the erratic behavior that has become routine not only in the White House but also in the thousand-room presidential palace in Ankara. And the clinical diagnosis would be on the mark. That said, it fails to explain the political calculation that the affected subject has contrived to rationalize his outrageous actions. Yet, no doubt, there must be a method to the madness. The actor is after all a political animal.
Consider the recent moves by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with regard to Germany, which, from any sane objective standpoint, he should consider his closest European ally and trade partner.Read Further...

German Government Draws the Line

If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan thought he could celebrate the first anniversary of the attempted coup by cementing his dictatorial rule at home and intimidating allies abroad, he made a serious miscalculation, which may end up costing more than he could have imagined. By exacerbating tensions with Germany, he has approached a breaking point neither he nor many in Berlin thought possible. On July 15, the anniversary of the coup attempt attributed to the Fetullah Gülen movement, the Turkish president celebrated by staging mass rallies, followed by a new wave of arbitrary arrests and accusations leveled against persons and institutions related to Germany. Read Further...

Aramean Day of Remembrance in Berlin

BERLIN — If the Armenians were the ones who suffered the greatest losses in the 1915 genocide, they were not alone. Other Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire were targeted, among them the Arameans, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Greeks. Since 2015, the date June 15 has been designated as Remembrance Day in Germany for the Arameans, the East and West Syrian Christians, and this year members of the community, joined by Armenians and others, commemorated the victims in Berlin. In the afternoon, participants gathered at the Evangelical Luisenkirchof cemetery, at the site of a memorial in honor of the 3 million Christians who died between 1912 and 1922. The three altars of remembrance are dedicated to the Armenians, the Arameans, Assyrians and Chaldeans, and the Greeks from Eastern Thrace, Asia Minor and Pontus.
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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...

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...

Art Inspires Artists

If you have ever visited any of the world’s greatest art museums, like the Uffizi in Florence, the Pergamon in Berlin or the National Museum in Cairo, you have probably encountered young art students squatting on the floor or leaning against a pillar, with sketchpad and pencil in hand. Rapt in total concentration, they are carefully reproducing in their own strokes the contours of a Raphael Madonna, or the regal profile of an Assyrian leader or a floral motif on papyrus. Read Further...

Friendship Between the Rhine and the Arax

Germans celebrated national unity on October 3, not only in Dresden but also in Yerevan. Most appropriately at the center of the festivities was the presentation of a new publication detailing the history of German-Armenian relations. Entitled Between the Rhine and the Arax: 900 Years of German-Armenian Relations, the volume published by TIGRAN METS in Yerevan, is the Armenian translation of a work issued in German in 1988, by Enno Meyer and Ara J. Berkian. Lisa Berkian-Abrahamian fulfilled her late husband’s desire by translating it into Armenian.Read Further...

Freedoms Are Not Relative

On October 3 Dresden hosted the celebrations for the Day of German Unity, the reunification that was forged in 1990. Bundestag President Norbert Lammert expressed optimism and pride that “We are living together today in a way that generations before us could only dream of: in unity and justice and freedom.” A day later prosecutors announced a decision that made clear that “freedom” includes freedom of speech and opinion, freedom of the press and of artistic expression. It was not a good day for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Read Further...

To Be a German or a Turk, That is the Question

Relations between Berlin and Ankara, already strained by the German Bundestag’s June 2 resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, have ratcheted down since, reaching a new low point in the wake of the Turkish government’s responses to the failed coup attempt on July 15. Though sighs of relief could be heard throughout Germany when it was confirmed that a military coup had been defeated (albeit at the cost of many lives), new apprehensions arose with the blow by blow reports of mass arrests, not only of military actors who had commanded tanks and occupied buildings, but of legions of others whose alleged crime was association with the movement of Fethullah Gülen, the man promptly designated as the mastermind behind the coup.Read Further...

Erdogan Overplays His Hand

There are good reasons to believe that on June 2, the German Bundestag (Parliament) will vote up a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The government coalition parties, Christian Democratic Union and Christian Socialist Union (CDU-CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD), plus the Green party, have agreed on a unified text, after intense debate and repeated postponements.Read Further...

Turks Join Armenians in Germany to Honor Genocide Victims

It is not usually the case that the guest speaker at a commemoration event for the victims of the 1915 genocide against the Armenians is Turkish, at least not in Germany. But in Hamburg, it is becoming somewhat of a tradition, since Toros Sarian first broke the ice two years ago. Sarian, who issues a multilingual online publication ArmenienInfo.net (HayastanInfo.net), is co-founder of the Initiative for Remembrance of the 1915 Genocide, which organized a gathering in the St. Petri church on April 21st. In recent years, he has invited not only Germans of Turkish origin to speak, but has consciously engaged representatives of other communities. Thus, this year, flanking keynote speaker Cem Özdemir, National Chairman of the Green Party whose family comes from Turkey, was Ali Ertam Toprak, Chairman of the Alevi Community in Germany and Secretary of the Alevi Communities in Europe, and a spokeswoman for the Turkish-Kurdish Initiative for Democratic Rights and Freedom.Read Further...