NYT: ‘Germans did the right thing; it’s genocide’

NYT editorial:


arm

In what has become an almost annual exercise, Turkey has thrown a fit because someone has spoken the truth about its dark past. This time, it has pulled its ambassador from Berlin and threatened dire consequences over a resolution, passed overwhelmingly by the German Parliament on Thursday, declaring that the century-old massacre of Ottoman Armenians was a genocide.

That is what Turkey does every time a foreign government dares to challenge its discredited claim that the Armenians perished in the cruel fog of World War I, and not in a premeditated attempt to eradicate a people. Germany’s claims to the contrary,

Turkish legislators huffed in a statement, are “based on biased, distorted and various subjective political motives.”

No, it was a genocide, the first of the 20th century.

Historians have established beyond reasonable doubt that as many as 1.5 million Armenians were deliberately killed or sent on death marches in 1915-16 by the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, fearful that they and other Christian minorities could side with Russia in the war.

For Armenians, millions of whom were left scattered around the world, gaining recognition that the slaughter was a genocide — a deliberate atrocity, and not collateral damage — has been a long and passionate national mission, which has resulted in formal recognition by more than 20 countries.

The Armenians are fully justified in their quest for a historical reckoning. But the more the world has recognized that, the more aggressively Turkey has stormed and shouted. A couple of years ago, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was still a relatively broad-minded prime minister, he seemed prepared to take a more conciliatory stance on the Armenian issue. It never happened, and the increasingly autocratic Mr. Erdogan warned Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, in advance that relations with Germany — “bilateral, diplomatic, economic, trade, political and military” — would be damaged by the resolution.

Mr. Erdogan’s threats are not without effect. Turkey is a crucial NATO ally in the upheavals of the Middle East, and especially important to Germany and the European Union as they try to stem the flow of Syrian refugees. Ms. Merkel was not present for the vote, though she did not oppose it. President Obama, who as a candidate in 2008 pledged to recognize the events of 1915 as a genocide, has failed to do so.

The damage done to Turkey’s relations with the Armenians and its NATO allies is the responsibility of that large majority of Turks who refuse to acknowledge a dark blot on their history, not those who seek to commemorate the tragedy. The Germans, who have admirably confronted the terrible genocide in their own history, did the right thing in defying Mr. Erdogan’s threats.

Advertisements

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
This entry was posted in Turkey. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s