Turkey’s stubborn isolation


Those hoping the Bundestag’s decision will knock some sense into Turkish attitudes are hopelessly naïve

The German parliament’s decision on Thursday to recognise the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915 as genocide provoked delirium, as expected, in Turkey. It’s happened so often before: consider similar parliamentary votes in France and the United States.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it would inevitably affect German-Turkish relations, while the Turkish foreign ministry accused Germany of “politicising history” and “preventing free discussion on historical issues”.

Friday morning’s newspapers were equally vitriolic: Nazi references and unflattering photographs of Chancellor Angela Merkel abound.

What is unfortunate about yesterday’s decision is that, save Armenian joy and Turkish anger, it will achieve very little.

Few reasonable people in Turkey or beyond deny Armenians died a century ago in vast numbers, but another country’s parliament is not going to help shed light on an historical issue that provokes modern-day passions.

Aspects of the events of 1915 remain unresolved – I touched on some during the 100th anniversary commemorations last year – and only genuinely disinterested historical research can resolve them.

It is naïve to think decisions like that taken by the Bundestag will knock some sense into Turkey and help it come to terms with what happened on its territory before it became a republic.

This is a proud, insecure country that thinks it is being bullied. This morning’s headlines are testament to that.

Last modified: Tuesday 13 December 2016

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