MICHAEL KAMBECK: PRESIDENT GAUCK "IS A MAN OF CONVICTION"

21:06 24/04/2015 >> IN THE WORLD

Panorama.am interviewed Dr Michael Kambeck, a former Secretary
General of the , regarding the recent
developments in Germany surrounding the recognition of Armenian
Genocide, namely - April 23 statement by President Joachim Gauck
who recognised the Armenian Genocide and Bundestag debate of draft
resolution recognising the Genocide on April 24.

Panorama.am: Mr Kambeck, today on April 24 Armenians round the globe
and the international community marks the centennial of the Armenian
Genocide of 1915. Are you following these commemorative events?

Michael Kambeck: Sure. Of course. I have been engaged with Armenian
issues for so many years, and of course I am following these events
with great interest.

Panorama.am: Yesterday German President Joachim Gauck participated
in a nondenominational religious service at Berlin Cathedral and in
his speech described the 1915 mass slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman
Turks as "genocide". Do you think anything has changed in Germany
after that speech by President Gauck?

Michael Kambeck: I think this was a concerted statement. You could
see that the discussion about the resolution in the Parliament,
and the discussion about what President Gauck would say has been
on German media for the last 10-20 days. And some days ago most
commentators claimed that the government would again say nothing,
would do same thing as in the past, would say it was horrible, but
not name it genocide.

The dynamics first started to change with the Pope, and his speech
where he clearly said it was genocide. And then everybody wondered
what will President Gauck say. And the President gave feedback to the
parliamentarians and the government that he will not be silent. He is
a man of conviction, he is also a Christian. And he said internally
that he would not be silent.

Then the Government changed its stance. Suddenly even the coalition
parliamentarians in the Bundestag said "we now have a formulation
that we all can agree too", which also contained the word genocide.

Suddenly, the spokesperson of the German Government read out exactly
the same sentence in a news conference that was later used by President
Gauck in his speech yesterday evening.

I think they didn't want to contradict publicly, and I think this is
good for Armenia, for the whole cause. So, they really changed their
position now.

Panorama.am: And today the Bundestag discussed a resolution on the
Armenian Genocide. Anything changing in German politics regarding
the issue?

Michael Kambeck: Well, for a long time it looked like the Government
was exercising a lot of pressure on the German Parliament -
the Bundestag - not to name this genocide , as they
have done for many-many years. But I must say that the dynamics
of the past couple of days produced exactly the opposite. The
parliamentarians today in the debate wanted to make a change, and
they actually openly critisised the Government for not having named
the genocide , even those parliamentarians from the
Christian-Democratic and Social-Democratic parties - the two parties
that form the Government.

This has been a very open and free debate. It was not along party
lines. Several MPs apologised also for the German involvement with the
perpetrators of the Genocide. One of those with the clearest words in
the German Bundestag was Cem Ozdemir, and he was really very critical
of the denialism in Turkey, but also by the German Government so far.

Parliamentarians said, it was a shame that in the past the German
diplomats were even not allowed to attend any event if the discussions
focused on the genocide. From now on Germany should be on the side
of those who propagates , just like it does with
the Holocaust.

All speakers were on a similar line. There was no contradiction. The
German Bundestag was very strong and critical against its own
Government. I have rarely seen such debates here. And the Government
was very quiet. I think we will see a change in the approach of
Germany to this issue also in practice in the future.

Panorama.am: And the last question, please. Do you think the delay
in adoption of the Armenian Genocide resolution in the Bundestag has
anything to do with the recent phone conversation between Chancellor
Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu?

Michael Kambeck: No, definitely, I dont think that way. I think that
now we have three draft resolutions which they will try consolidate
into one. And it seems that the governmental parties have changed
their wordings only very recently. Now all the three drafts name
the word genocide, and they can be turned into one resolution. And
this is what the Foreign Relations Committee will try to do. They
will try to make one cross-party, one-fits-all resolution, that can
be agreed to by all parties in the Bundestag, or at least by a vast
majority. It is not because of Turkish interference. Turkey was quite
ridiculous and hysteric with their actions recently, I dont think
they achieved anything.

http://www.panorama.am/en/politics/2015/04/24/michael-kambeck/